Almost exactly three years ago today, I sat holding my pregnant belly while weeping hysterically for God to make what I had found out all go away. The life that I had known, the family I had imagined for my baby girl and the future of my marriage were instantly obliterated beyond recognition in a matter of seconds. My reality wasn’t just shattered. No shattered would insinuate that I could attempt to pick up the pieces and glue them back together. No, I was surrounded by dust. My life was unrecognizable.
I don’t know if you have ever lived out disappointment at this level. Where every second feels like an eternal hell, uncertainty grabs you by the throat and any glimpse of peace or hope is instantly swallowed up by a black hole of fear. I had known deep loss, rejection and betrayal before this day happened. I had spent many years working through the damaging effects of those experiences. Our company, The Healthy Edge, was even inspired by the personal journey of healing my emotional and physical health after the loss of my young mom to breast cancer, the betrayal of my fiance and years of unhealthy coping. Little did I know that overcoming those experiences would prepare and equip me to survive the biggest devastation of my life.
You see, before when I experienced deep rejection I would instantly go into control mode. For me, it was my weight, food, exercise, calories, etc. I would control my weight because it just had to be about me not being thin or beautiful enough, right? So I would do any diet/method/system that would promise to give me the external results without touching the inside issues. The more grueling the method, the better since somewhere inside of me I felt like I deserved to be punished and miserable. I would binge to experience a moment of escape and follow it up with a moment of false control by purging. Next would follow the deep sense of unworthiness wrapped up in a burrito of guilt and shame. I would drink alcohol to numb the need to control (because control is exhausting) and put myself in unsafe situations to get just a morsel of validation from a man that I was enough. That small crumb would get me through that night and then the cycle repeated. That was the old pattern I lived out for years while appearing to the world that I had it all together. But I had worked through those pains with God and exchanged those behaviors for healthier ones. I had forgiveness in my heart and peace in my soul. All was good. I was good. Then the bomb dropped.
Have you ever had a bomb drop right in the middle of your comfortable, “everything seems okay at the moment” life?
I know how to deal with rejection and loss the old way, but as a healthy, pregnant woman and CEO of a health company who speaks to women all over the country about overcoming and living empowered, I didn’t know how that version of me was suppose to deal with what was in front of me. I had walked through healing in other areas of my life years after it had happened so the wounds were scars, but this wound was fresh. This wound was open, bleeding and oozing. I didn’t know how to stop the bleeding. I was afraid to look at it. I was paralyzed. And not to mention I was about to be a mom to a new human being. Gulp.
Have you ever had a season in your life where you felt like it was just too much? Where the pressure was so intense that you felt as if you were being crushed alive? Me too.
For a reason unknown at the time, God did not remove me from facing the reality of my dust every day as I stayed with Brian, gave birth to Berlyn and attempted to find some resemblance of normalcy. As I walked through this season of my life, there was a blanket of joy as my baby girl came into my world and turned it upside down in the most miraculous and beautiful ways and simultaneously there was a big cloud that hovered over every moment of the first two years of her life constantly reminding me of the uncertainty, betrayal and pain. That sucked. It was like living in a torture chamber planted smack dab in the middle of the most beautiful place on earth. I would get moments where the pain would subside and I would be present to the moments of motherhood and then a feeling or memory or suspicion would enter in and the reality of what was going on would wash over me and I would be right back into the vice grip of pain and fear.
Have you ever lived in both pain and joy in the same moment? Have you ever teetered between hope and despair and faith and fear like an aggressive ping pong match? Me too.
The details of what happened are not important. Actually, I believe it would detract from the gift in the message I am sharing. I know some people will read this and spend more time and energy making assumptions, passing judgment, gossiping or being angry with my husband - perhaps because it reminds them of an unhealed wound or bitter root within themselves. But please know this. I am more than okay, Actually, today I am thankful. Don’t get me wrong. I was angry - to say the least. I have never felt emotional intensity like that before in my life. The myriad of emotions I felt on a daily basis left me exhausted in every fiber of my being. I have never wrestled with confusion, unforgiveness, grief, resentment, bitterness and judgement like I did in the first two years after the uncovering. I am talking about a daily mental and emotional battle that often times left me beat up and waving my flag of surrender. But there were also other casualties of this battle besides me. Brian had to be going through his own personal hell that I often failed to be sensitive too as my anger, pain, fear and bitterness manifested in words and actions that only added to the devastation.
Have you ever walked through something that in the moment you felt that you would never get over? Have you ever hurt others because of the hurt within you? Me too.
I needed relief. I searched for a place to offload the blame so these emotions swirling inside of me would quiet. As I searched through tears, prayers, scripture, counseling, God lovingly reminded me of my imperfections. At first I got defensive. Seriously God? Nothing warranted what was done. And God confirmed that was true. He also showed me how often I had put expectations on Brian to love me in a certain way and how often I withheld my love when those expectations were not met. He showed me many examples where I had compromised who I was to get approval and validation. He revealed how often I had put the responsibility for my own happiness on Brian and the external circumstances of our life. And most painful, He showed me how I had put my affections for Brian above my affections for God. I had compromised the love of God for the counterfeit love of man. Through words, actions and inactions from the hurt and insecure places within me, I, too, had contributed to the gap that became fertile soil for temptation to enter my marriage. It doesn’t make it right. But it did give me a place to anchor my focus so I could allow God to change me within this circumstance - because the circumstance itself wasn’t going away. What was done had been done. I now fully know and accept that Brian’s choices were not an intentional attack towards me (because I am not thin enough or beautiful enough or just enough period). God showed me, hurting people hurt people. I can’t imagine the place of pain that would lure anyone to do what was done just for a moment of relief - but I know it happens often and in a variety of ways. But from this perspective I began to feel that forgiveness could be possible...because maybe I needed Brian’s forgiveness too.
Have you ever looked at the hurt in your life and the people who have hurt you and asked yourself what role you played? Have you ever looked at changing yourself instead of changing a circumstance or another person as a solution to your pain?
I don’t believe God causes evil things to happen. There is evil in this world because there is an enemy of our soul who wants to steal and kill and destroy us. He knows exactly what our weaknesses are and exactly what lures will be most tempting. On this side of heaven, there are going to be temptations, lies, lures and things that happen that don’t make any sense through our human perspective. The question is, do we trust God’s way or our way when we deal with the unexplainable and what feels like the unforgivable? Do we believe God caused the pain or do we believe he allows the pain because there is a purpose to the pain? Do we choose to take control, get revenge, punish and condemn or do we believe God works all things for our good? I wrestled these questions on a daily basis and would fluctuate between my way and God’s way. One day (or one hour or sometimes one minute) I would surrender it all to God and access His peace within me and trust His plan and the next day (or hour or minute) I was right back in my torture chamber striving in my flesh to control the situation/person and attempt to work things out in my own strength.
Can you relate to the struggle of God’s way or your way?
I asked WHY me?, WHY us?, WHY this? WHY now? more times than I can count but an answer to those questions never came. It eventually became clear, through God’s revelation, that waiting to know the “why” wouldn’t fix the dust of my life. It was still going to be dust. And knowing the “why” may be more than I am meant to handle. Knowing the “why” may have detracted from my healing and created more lies and bondage. I had to accept this revelation and be okay with not knowing the motive or reason behind the betrayal. I can’t tell you how long that took, but it was a process that required me to be present to the pain, loss and disappointment - not numb it, not run from it, not place blame for it and not control it. I am so thankful that I had walked my Healthy Edge journey for almost eight years before all this happened and I remained strong and convicted to stand in integrity of honoring my physical and emotional health through good nutrition, exercise, hydration and healthy thoughts (most of the time) while wading through the muck.
Have you ever spent time asking the “why” questions? There comes a time ladies, when we just have to let go of the unanswered questions and move to the place of, “WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS NOW?”
I would love to tell you that I figured this question out easy peasy. I didn’t. I went to my default mode which is, “I can fix it.” I can fix my marriage. I can fix what was broken. I read books, watched videos, listened to podcasts, talked to close friends and prayed. I was “all in” to go to counseling, marriage/couples retreat, healing retreats...anything. Let’s just FIX THIS.
But sometimes we can’t fix it. Sometimes the reason dust is made in our lives is because it’s not suppose to be put back together, but rather it is suppose to become something new. Do you know that clay is dust with water?
Yes you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
God didn’t want me to put my life back together, He wanted to make something new. And in these last three years, I have learned to live surrendered in the present moment because the script I had written for my ‘picture perfect” life no longer existed. I have no playbook. I have no plan to operate from. God knows me well. Only from this place of complete brokenness and uncertainty would I fully lean on Him and not on my own understanding.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6
God won this wrestling match. He made it fully apparent (if there was any doubt) that I am not God and my role is not to “play God” in my life or anyone else’s life. God’s ways are above my ways and his thoughts are higher than my thoughts. He sees the whole tapestry of my life while I am stuck in my limited view of this present moment and season. I have faith that God’s story for me is one of redemption and restoration. Even if what was lost isn’t redeemed and restored on this side of heaven, it most surely will be when I enter into eternity. Not one tear will be unaccounted for. Not one. I don’t think I have a better version of hope than this.
Is this you? Do you have something that shattered your world and you are sitting in a pile of dust, crying out to God and wondering where do you go next? Are you dealing with a situation or a disappointment that has left you feeling completely unequipped, vulnerable and humbled? I feel you my sweet sister. That is a place no one wants to be and a place I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
But I wanted to write this on the other side of the disappointment and the pain so you have hope. I stand here, three years later - stronger, humbler, more compassionate, wiser and for the first time in my life, delivered from the need for other people’s validation and approval. Without the need to be “enough” in other’s eyes, rejection has no power over me. The very thing that Satan has used my whole life to condemn, accuse and shame me is the very thing that God used to deliver me to freedom. Praise Jesus.
He knew that I would go through this. He knew it was coming and he had prepared me by allowing countless lessons of rejection over my lifetime. Without these experiences I would have 1) never pursued a relationship with God, 2) never started our company and what I now consider a ministry, The Healthy Edge and 3) been crushed beyond repair by this single rejection and my daughter, Berlyn, would not have the mom she has today. But God had my back and He has yours too. He allowed all this pain because it brought me to Him - fully and unhindered. Today I rest in my faith that God’s plan for my life is best - even if I don’t know the plan. I trust Him. I trade all the fleeting moments of worldly security, the self-seeking love of people, the conditional acceptance based on performance and success and the temporary feelings of happiness of my old life for the love, peace and joy of God that never fails and permeates every moment, situation and circumstance.
Sister, the place you are in now will not last forever, but the more you resist the process, numb the pain and try to do it your own way - the longer you will remain in the prison of fear and uncertainty. And you know what else? All of our pain not only has a purpose - it is part of our God given purpose. When I was going through the darkest moments of this season, I doubted if I would ever speak, write or coach again. I had no idea how I would come out of this alive, let alone share it with other women. But like Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
As I pursue God with all my heart and soul, he has brought me out of the wilderness and has anointed me to set other women free with a passion and a conviction that only comes from surviving an epic battle. As I walk with other women through their pain, uncertainty and disappointments to the place of their healing, I do it with a deeper understanding, humility, grace and trust that God has them too. I don’t need to prove anything, or fix anything or make anything happen - I just need to lead them into the arms of their Father and walk beside them as he opens up the path to their freedom. God has built my faith so that when they falter in theirs, I can lift them up, encourage them and instruct them to keep on going because when it’s God - it’s always good!
If you are looking for someone to walk with you on your journey to physical and emotional well-being, I would love to talk to you. I have an amazing 8-course program for women, private coaching and group programs available. I offer free coaching sessions and would be honored to hear about your journey and let you know what I offer. Click here to schedule our time together.