I grew up in the country with fields and farm lands surrounding our little neighborhood. The only commerce in our community was a gas station, a grain elevator and a small country store owned by a single woman who lived in the loft apartment above. It was a popular hangout.
Throughout my teen years, my friends practiced different philosophies and religions. We accepted each other’s views and they encouraged me to practice a belief system, any belief system, without hypocrisy. Just believe in something wholeheartedly. Anything that I felt was real and true, however I wished to define truth. The view from where I was standing as a young person trying to define my beliefs didn’t show Christianity as holding truth. Many of my peers claiming salvation through Christ abused alcohol and drugs with little regard for healthy relationships.
Although my understanding of Christianity at the time was a deception, I learned to test what I believe. I learned the concept of defending my deep convictions and knowing why. My high school years were very turbulent, but many years later as an adult the ability to test my faith eventually led me to cultivate a real relationship with Christ.
The valedictorian speech at my high school graduation ceremony was fully representative of the “Me” Generation. The world was ours and we were going to take full advantage of it, without concern for anyone else. We were given permission to fulfill our desires with gusto.
My dream was to swim with the dolphins, study whales and sharks, and discover the mysteries of the ocean. I looked forward to exploring the vast, wide open spaces unseen by others. But the enormous pressure to find a clear career path complicated my personal search for significance and security.
My parents offered little help or encouragement. Their decision making approach was based on instilling fear. For fear that I would not be able to support myself financially or find significance as a single woman, they said I should marry, and quickly, so that all the good men were not taken. They didn’t want me to end up an “old maid”. Their words were degrading and demeaning to me as a person of potential. And it didn’t make sense. I was a woman of the “Me” Generation. I was part of an emerging force not to be reckoned with. Yet with all this generational empowerment at hand, I had no clue what that meant for my life in practical terms.
As misconceptions continued floating around my system of beliefs, an equally confused young Christian man aggressively pursued my affection. We married, and as our family grew and changed, I did too.
The moment I held my first baby girl, my life changed, and so did my understanding of God’s love. I was completely enthralled with entering the new world of “mom” and I began a journey away from a selfish, full-fledged, card carrying member of the “Me” Generation. The love a parent has for her child can’t be fully explained or understood outside the experience itself. A powerful love ordained by God. A small taste of His passionate love for us. It became the catalyst that set me on a path toward truth. I discovered God’s definition for significance and purpose, desiring Him to encompass all aspects of my life. Although my husband also experienced this miraculous time in our lives, he ultimately chose to abandon God’s path.
Since the birth of my three children, there have been many defining moments. Extremely difficult choices were inevitable. Sometimes it meant simply accepting the devastating choices of others, many times crying myself to sleep, feeling hopeless, abandoned, completely rejected and unable to cope. Asking God why my beautiful children had to grow up without their father. Asking why all of us had to suffer the devastation of my husband’s harsh choices. There have been many challenges as a single mom which I am not equipped or designed for. But thankfully God is.
I didn’t discover the mysteries of the ocean, but I have discovered that our challenges have value and purpose, impacting others in ways we may never know. Christ has a plan much greater than any of us can fathom. Even in the pain and feelings of hopelessness that surround our circumstances, we connect and weave through the lives of those around us. Although we can’t see it, God’s plan is in motion. We all are the connecting threads that weave throughout the tapestry of God’s vast, beautiful creation.
We were not designed to be anything other than who God says we are: fully human, with our struggles and imperfections, in need of salvation, grace and redemption. God willingly paid an enormous price for our freedom. So go ahead, ask Him your tough questions. Express your frustrations as Habakkuk did when all seemed lost. Seek answers, pursue wisdom, be willing to unpack your bags with God, and make the choice to follow His path. He’s waiting.
“The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)
May I pray?
Heavenly Father, thank you that You use every experience in our lives to mold who we are. We can’t fully comprehend Your love for us. A love that never changes, even when we’re still not sure what we believe about You. Please reveal Yourself to us today. May we trust in Your sovereignty and Your strength as You lead us to new heights on the mountaintops of life. Amen.
Q4U: Do you have a Rising Above Real Life story? You can encourage others by sharing the ups and downs of your journey. Please contact me at Joy@RisingAboveRealLife.com. Names can remain confidential.