In an instant my family’s life was forever changed when my husband died suddenly a little over four years ago. The months that followed my husband Andy’s death left me feeling incapable of dreaming of what this new life was supposed to look like without him. Too many questions lied ahead that I just wasn’t quite ready to face… Would I be subjected to a lifetime of loneliness and pain, because I couldn’t imagine living life with anyone other than him? Who would teach my children all the things that dads typically taught their kids to do? How can the world around me keep moving forward while my life feels as though it has completely stopped? And the most critical question of all “Why did this happen to me?” The questions were many and the answers were few, but the good news was that I didn’t have to know all the answers nor the strength to navigate them on my own.
I recall a beautiful sunny day a few days after my husband died where I was sitting in my backyard along the edge of the worn-out skateboard half pipe ramp that he had bought to ride his BMX bike on (Yes, my husband was a small child in a loveable adult body). With my head in my hands and elbows on my knees, I cried out to God asking him to take away the Tsunami of pain that had suddenly been inflicted on my family. Questioning why it had to be Andy instead of me. Concerned for how I was going to support my kids during the most challenging time of our lives. It was at that moment that I could hear Him say to give it all to Him. Let Him carry the weight of the grief on His shoulders as it became too much to bear on my own. Allow Him to heal the wounds that were so deep only hope and love would allow them to heal. The hope we would continuously seek for a brighter future and the love our heavenly father so graciously gives us anytime we ask.
Out of the ashes we’d arisen both stronger and more resilient, so that we could begin building this entirely new (much different) life together. It wasn’t the life we asked for quite frankly. If it was it would include a mom and dad raising their three beautiful children together; nonetheless, it was the life my family was given. Why on Earth were we chosen to endure such a tragedy? Through the pain I’ve begun to see that Andy’s death wasn’t in vein that maybe in some little way there was a purpose for this pain. I realize that thinking that “God’s got a purpose for our pain” isn’t a phrase that resonates with many of my friends and the people I know in my inner circle of widowhood; however, it has carried me through the darkest of days and to quote Romans 8:28 (NIV) straight from the Bible, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I’ve never specifically referenced scripture before in any of my previous blog posts, so I’m feeling a little queasy as I think about all the thoughts flowing through your head. However, this verse was first presented to me by a dear friend who speaks her truth on the daily and the verse has continuously popped up in various aspects of my life over the past five months. Some call this coincidence…I call this my call to action.
Over two years ago I made the decision to leave the corporate world, which left me feeling excited about my future yet scared of the unknown. For months a voice had been relentlessly penetrating my everyday thoughts. I continued to pass it off as my own selfish desires, but when I repeatedly ignored the whisper it eventually came in the form of a full-blown wakeup call when my teenage daughter ran away from home. I won’t get into the details of that right now, but what I will tell you is that my decision to take a leave of absence was to more fully embrace each moment with my children, live in the present, and explore the unknown. Each day that I spent away from my career, the more clarity I gained around the calling I was receiving for my life. I knew that I was going to make an impact on the lives of others and allow them to live out their story through mine; however, I didn’t know what that meant for what was going to come next in my life. The next several months I spent many hours in prayer, silence, and meditation as I navigated this new reality. God asked me to listen, so I opened myself up to any possibilities even the smallest ones.
It didn’t take long though and I had inadvertently begun looking for distractions in every facet of my life (once again). The voice that once spoke so clearly had become a low hum in a faraway place in my mind. I started volunteering more at my kids’ school, reconnected with old and new friends, planned trips with my children, and even began to explore and eventually pursued a new business opportunity that a friend of mine and I were interested in starting. Don’t get me wrong…I recognize that these are all wonderful things; however, it led me to a very dark place earlier this year and when I woke up one day I was once again left with a feeling of emptiness. I knew something needed to change, because I had spent too long distracting myself from the very purpose of my existence. My calling still wasn’t clear, but I knew it was bigger than anything I could ever imagine. Certainly much bigger than how I had been living my life.
A shift took place deep inside of me that allowed me to completely surrender to my destiny. No more excuses, distractions, or self-pity. I felt a new level excitement that I’d never felt before and the lessons I’m about to share with you allowed me to gain clarity and focus as I continued to walk back down the path of the unknown…
Lesson #1 – Your destiny is your sole purpose for living and when it comes calling you are allowed to take whatever path you desire to fulfill it. I chose to take the longer, rockier, life lesson learning path and while I clearly can’t change that direction even if I wanted to, I’ve learned to EMBRACE IT. To embrace it means to accept your purpose willingly or enthusiastically, but just know that once you do you’ll want to fasten your safety belt. You’re purpose is much bigger than you can ever imagine and things will start flowing to you in incredible ways. Believe me when I say that I know this can be challenging to accept. When I lost my husband, I never imagined that God wanted something more for my life. I tried to ignore it, run screaming in the other direction, yet here I am sharing with you how I’ve learned to embrace my life’s purpose while you’re likely out there having recently faced your own trials and tribulations. You can choose to run from it or fully embrace it. The choice is up to you, but I will tell you that the latter of the two will lead you down a path to your greatest sense of fulfillment.
Lesson #2 – You can distract yourself all you want, but you must eventually stop resisting and completely SURRENDER. Your experiences have prepared, shaped, and led you to this very moment in your life. Fully surrender and allow the light of this new path to guide you. This is why you must be first willing to accept what is being asked of you, because until you’re willing to fully embrace it how can you completely surrender to it. I’ve found myself running in different directions for far too long and it wasn’t until a few short months ago that I made the decision to STOP, SURRENDER, AND LISTEN. Every day I surrender myself to God’s will and continue to listen to what is being asked of me. Each day you may be faced with new challenges; however, you will take note of the beautiful ways you can use it to guide you as life continues to unfold.
Lesson # 3 – Once you’ve embraced this new reality and surrendered to your destiny you must BE COURAGEOUS. Congratulations!!….Your destiny will now be subjected to the judgment of every human being on the planet. Your willingness to be vulnerable must also be met with courage. This is a tough one, because as I continue to venture into the unknown I feel the need to care about what every other person thinks about me. Please don’t let the fear of the unknown or what people are going to say deter you from your destiny. Undoubtedly, you will face new challenges yet your courage shows your obedience to God as you move throughout these difficult times. Your faithful reliance on God will be met with those that hear your message and are encouraged by your words. The lives of others will be impacted by the awesomeness you’re creating, so don’t feed into the lies you or others keep telling yourself.
Wherever you’re at on your journey the most important lesson I’ve learned is that we were never intended to walk this path alone. You may not know what comes next for you or how you’re going to make it throughout this day, but know this…You are loved and God will wrap you in his loving embrace through the friendships you make along the way. He has uniquely selected every person that is currently present in your life to walk alongside you, so you never feel alone as you embark upon this new journey ‘Into the Unknown.’