Anyone who knows me now knows I believe in the power of testimony. The following is an update of an older post called Darkest Days. I’m not going to lie, I’ve got some boney skeletons knocking around in my closet. Much of my life is shared in this blog space, but there are more chapters to come. I am not perfect, but I am honest and open. I’ve lived a lot of life so I have good chapters and bad chapters and chapters where I’ve had to recreate myself. I’ve been accused of sharing too much of being an open book. To some extent that’s true, however, only the people I trust the most get the unedited version of my story.
I recently read that experience without sharing leaves no room for growth. Instead, bad experiences turned inward make you bitter and isolated. Wow! Been there, done that, brought home a whole crate of T-shirts. So here I am opening myself up, exposing the dark. I am not a fan of bitter and isolated.
I will be honest, at times I have had an ungrateful heart. I think at one time or another we tend to want things now, instead of later. We ask, “Why me?” or “Will this ever end?” Jumping into a big ole’ pity pool, wallowing in it, and never looking to the future. Sometimes I have to look at where I have been to appreciate what I have now. This is a lesson, I have to remind myself often.
Everyone has to suffer through hard times and dark periods in their lives. I have often heard it said, “It is not the situation, but how you handle the situation that matters.” I suppose that is true to some extent, but what about those situations that you don’t handle with grace?
In those times, when you don’t make the best decisions, you end up on the wrong side of things. Somehow you make it out alive. Do you hold on to that shame and hurt, hoping no one will ever see the darkness that lives inside you? Are you bitterly ashamed of your past and pray no one will ever know the true you?
That hurt and shame keeps you from being the best version of yourself, you are bogged down in mire of your mind and everything that has gone wrong in your past. But God has created you for more than that, you are not your past, you are not what has happened to you. You are a new creation, it is time to wipe the slate clean, start fresh. We are to learn from our mistakes, not live in them. But, it is so easy to take on that role.
I am certainly no stranger to dark times. As a matter of fact, if you had asked me in the early 90s where I would be now, my answer would have been, “Dead.” After the death of my young husband when I was 19, I descended a dark and treacherous path.
You see, I had convinced myself that it was my fault, and I felt like those closest to me blamed me and hated me for his death. Beyond that, I convinced myself I didn’t deserve anything or anyone good in my life. I sought out dangerous people and compromising situations. I dated all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. I just couldn’t buy into the premise that I was worth it, so I treated nice guys horribly and kicked them to the curb. Being abused, became my normal because I thought I deserved it.
I battled with my worth and my past for years. It haunted me. More than once, it almost killed me. I felt alone, isolated, and scared of the person I had become.
I didn’t have the strength to walk away from the things that had beaten me down. It took a series of unfortunate circumstances (isn’t that always the case) for me to seek a counselor. Many see counseling as a sign of weakness. I see it as the strongest moment of my life. It’s where I began to see past the darkness.
I had spent so much time railing at God. Screaming. Crying. Why? Why? Why? For me, coming back to a faith I had lost, saved me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Everyone wants the quick fix. There isn’t one; there is no pill, no magic bean, and no physical interaction that can take away the pain you try to hide, medicate, or abuse out of view. Counseling takes time and work, hard work. Faith takes believing. God never said life would be easy. He never said bad things wouldn’t happen. By surviving your worst situation, you can encourage someone else. But God can’t use your story unless you are willing to tell it.
The rest of the story is that 35 years after losing my first love, I lost my greatest love. A person who knew the darkest secrets of my soul and loved me anyway. A person I shared everything with, someone I could be myself with and they could be themselves, a best friend, a lover, and a confidant. Someone who enjoyed being around me and me being around them. It wasn’t perfect, but it was priceless.
The hole he left in my heart, I thought could never be filled. Once again I found myself feeling unworthy, alone, and unloved and making poor choices because I felt there was nothing better for me out there. I had been through it before, I knew the path.
But God puts people on your path, people who speak life and not death, who remind you that you know a better way. People who tell you it is ok to love yourself, that you have worth and a purpose, to make you remember who you are, and why you are here.
Looking back on my past now, I am more grateful than ever, not only for where I am now but that I made it through. I may not have the nicest house, or drive a new car. I may never find someone who loves and shares everything with me again. But I have love, abundant love. The people who pour into my life love me and care about me. So, I have riches beyond gold and silver. God told me that I am beautifully and wonderfully made and that He loves me in spite of myself.Isaiah 61:3 (KJV) says this:To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he might be glorified.
God gave me beauty from the ashes of my life and gave me joy for my mourning. I exchanged my heavy heart for a garment of praise.
I am no expert and I can’t wave a magic wand and fix problems. If you are hurting, I strongly suggest finding a counselor, someone who won’t try to fix you with a pill. Find someone who will listen and lead you on the right path. Know that you are NEVER alone, God always walks with you, even in the dark times.
Now you know a little about my darkest times and how it has made me grateful for the light. So, will my journey into dark places help you? I hope it does. I don’t believe in beating people over the head with my Bible, I believe in sharing what God brought me through. We don’t have to have the same belief system for someone to see and empathize with what someone else has endured, overcome, and survived. We all need hope. I pray you have hope for a better tomorrow.
Republished and edited from June 2013.