Out of shame and into Grace

A few weeks ago, I was blessed with a surprise that goes beyond anything my wildest dreams have dreamt.   I have wanted to share my gratitude and joy with the whole wide universe, yet I have stopped myself from doing this multiple times.  Tonight, as I sat folding laundry, I felt such a tug on my heart to stop arguing with myself immediately about what this blogpost would look like, and instead, just write.  Thus, this post is going to be unfiltered, possibly a wee bit scattered and certainly vulnerable.  It’s likely to seem a little raw, because raw is simply where I am these days.

In January, 2013, I began a brand new job as a Resource Coordinator for families who had  kiddos with special needs.  The day I was driving to get my drug test, a man just barely older than me took his own life by jumping off of a bridge.  He landed right on the windshield of the truck in front of me.(I think I wrote about this in an older blog).  Reflecting back, not only was this heartbreaking; it was seemingly a mirror to what my life would be like for the next few years.  My whole world would be turned upside down in ways I never could’ve fathomed.  In those years, there might have even been a time that I thought it would perhaps be easier to not be alive than to bear what was.  This was a fleeting thought, I don’t believe I was ever tempted to take my own life, and every time I was feeling destitute, I would think back to that man and how he must have been so desperately hopeless.  I didn’t realize in the midst of my pain, he actually further lit the fire in me to reach out to the hurting and to do all I could to ensure no aching soul would ever walk alone.  Lofty ideals…they are strong in me.

I’ve no desire to trudge up past pains, yet it’s beneficial to give a background for those who aren’t aware.  The rest of 2013 included the deepening of my Daddy’s war with Alzheimer’s; infidelity in what I thought were the happiest years of my 15 year marriage; a never-ending battle with contractors whose work had devastating consequences on our  home and finances; and a spiral into the depths of Hell as clinical depression took hold of my then spouse.  Simultaneously, my anxiety had me constantly spinning in the eye of my own tornado

2014- 2015 were in many ways years of restoration.  My ex and I found a beautiful souled, wise counselor.  We worked our asses off to get to a better place.  We had a plethora of healing take place between us, individually and in our family.  Daddy continued to decline and was moved into a memory care community.  Even so, Momma, myself, my siblings and extended family drew closer together.  I applied for grad school and did not get accepted.  I see now that this was the very best thing, for I didn’t know how hard life was going to get.  At the time, it was another rejection and I felt more defeated than ever.  I had quit my wonderful job and worked several little part-time jobs so that I could help with my Dad and work on healing my family.  Though I have no regrets, because I will never have that time of healing again, it was financially stressful.  I baked for extra cash, picked up every odds and ends job I could and tried to maintain my sanity at this time.  My ex and I rarely saw each other with our crazy schedules, kids activities and my Daddy.  If we were given a life stressors assessment at the time, we would’ve been able to check many of the major stressors, we were in constant survival mode.

2016-2017  sadly brought another separation, and finally, a divorce after nearly 18 years of marriage and 23 years of knowing.  It also brought the death of my precious Daddy; a move for my extraordinary Momma; school changes for the kids; returning to work full-time for me; and getting accepted into grad school (YES)!  A roller coaster ride full of high’s and lows, with minimal in between’s.

In 2013, when I first found out about the affair, I went searching for  a bible verse that I could hold on to.  I didn’t want anything too pretty sounding; for life wasn’t pretty and I often was certain that it would only get worse.  Besides, I was building up walls between God and I and I only wanted to be slightly comforted.

“So I will restore the years the locust has eaten.  You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.  And praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.  And my people shall never be put to shame.”  -Joel 2:25 – 26

Truthfully, I have no recollection of how I landed on this verse, I only know that I have held it in my heart for always.  Every time I recite it to myself, I remind me that I will have to surrender my picture of what restoration looks like to God and trust him in the process.  If you know me at all, you know this is nearly impossible for me at times.  My favorite game is “Here God, here’s (what, who, struggle), I surrender it to you. ” (5 seconds pass)  “Actually God, I’ve got it, thanks for being willing to help.”  And so it goes…

Like the rest of the world, I have had struggles.  When that big blessing came to me a few weeks ago, it was quite public…I was on two news stations as a matter of fact.  I have received numerous accolades, encouragements and hugs; everyone is happy for me.  In that happiness, I keep hearing how much “I deserve this”.  I am truly humbled and honored that anyone would even believe I deserve such treasures; I have a hard time believing I ‘deserve’ anything.’  We all are deserving.  Even more, it is a challenge for me to ask for much less accept help.  I am getting LOTS of help here, help that was just bestowed on me without my asking.  Help because someone (s) see my heart and my struggles and they followed a prompting to nominate me.  I am touched deeply and no fancy words could ever express that.  I am just going to have to express it in hugs and cookies, we already agreed on that!

In short, my dear friend, Mike G. is the person who had me on his heart and started this ball rolling.  He connected with my precious friend, Trena T. and the ball started rolling. The kids and I were one of three families chosen to win a new heat and air unit from the fabulous Air Assurance.  (WHAT?  SO THANKFUL!)  Many more people were involved, including Mike’s lovely wife Melissa and a handful of professionals who are going to (are you ready?  Drum Roll!) make my dreams come true.  Our beloved home is receiving renovations and remedies.  These people who I don’t even know are going to contribute to the lives of my dear children and I simply because they are choosing to.  I am eternally grateful, humbled, giddy, shocked, amazed, and in disbelief.  I’ve posted the link to the news station interview above.

As people began to step forward and tell me what they would be doing for us, in our home, as a gift, my verse kept speaking to me.  HE WILL RESTORE THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS HAVE EATEN.  He has been restoring, he is restoring.  It does not look like I would’ve defined it, but God is a good, good Father and his restoration is nothing short of supernatural.

Tonight, I hear the part of my verse that says THERE IS NO SHAME IN HIS PEOPLE.  Maybe it is okay for me to accept the ‘deserving’.  I’m working on that.

My prayer for 2018…the year Sarah learns to step out of her shame and into His grace.

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