Joy's Story: The Next Chapter

What if real life was as smooth and satisfying as dark chocolate? For girls like me, it would be heaven on earth.

For a period of time.

I don’t believe I will ever tire of dark chocolate. It’s a staple in my diet. I eat it regularly, because of the antioxidants of course. I feel healthier knowing it helps to release free radicals in my body systems. And so I enjoy every bite, after bite, after bite. The only issue I have with dark chocolate is that the serving size on the label needs to be doubled.

But if life was always the same “amazing” as dark chocolate, day in and day out, wouldn’t it then become “not so amazing” because it’s now just “ordinary”? Let’s call the amazing days “dark chocolate days”––meaning days that are so absolutely amazing that words can’t adequately describe them. Like heaven. For most of us, we don’t have dark chocolate days over and over, day after day, on a continual basis.

Real life for most of us is full of ups and downs.

We dodge the swirl of everyday busyness, and sometimes we’re in trials of life that put us smack in the middle of an all-out tempest. At some time or another, we will all face our own life storms. A storm may be death or divorce, infidelity or betrayal, abandonment or financial loss, health issues or loss of a job, a best friend moving away or something else. Regardless of what caused the storm, our emotions are real. The change in our lives is drastic. And it can feel like we’re trying to balance on the tightrope of life in the middle of a tornado. There we are. Alone. Teetering side to side. Wondering if we’ll make it to the other side. Wondering if we can hang on much longer. Wondering what we have to hang on to.

Other people may not understand our storms. Regardless of what others say or think, the storms can rage. They are real to us. They are our real life.

I was in a raging tempest.

Here’s the abridged version. After my new life began as a Jesus girl, I spent five years immersing myself in God’s Word and then leading a small group of young women as we studied Scripture and grew in our relationships with each other and with the Lord. It was a beautiful time of new friendships and new beginnings. It was the calm before the storm.

I then met and married a man whose hometown was halfway across the country, and I prepared to make the move to his hometown. A few days before the movers came, my husband told me he was leaving the marriage. We had been married for just three months. After much prayer, I knew that I had to honor the commitment I made to God and to my husband. I continued with the move. My husband and I drove the 24 hours together, and then he dropped me off at our new home. Alone. I had a suitcase, a sleeping bag, and a cooler. No refrigerator, no furniture, no car. Everything was still in transit. It was three days before Christmas.

A violent storm unleashed.

My life was shattered. He abandoned me and our marriage. He did not give a reason. How could this happen if I was walking in step with God? Disbelief and unanswered questions were soon overshadowed by a monsoon of extreme, raw emotions. Anguish and utter despair. Overwhelming shame. Complete isolation. I knew no one in my new town, and my family and friends were 1300 miles away. I was at the bottom of an abyss, and totally alone.

Everywhere I went the first question asked was “What brought you to Dallas?” Each time was like another slash of a knife into my heart.

Day by day. That’s how I lived. One dark day at a time. I began picking up the shards of my broken life, my broken dreams. None of them fit back together. None of them looked pretty. Nothing made sense. As the storm continued to wreak havoc, I wandered to the very edge of life itself.

And God was there.

The only words that come close to explaining what happened is that God reached down into the abyss and pulled me up. He placed me on the Rock of Christ and saved me. Again.

It took months for my heart to be healed from the abandonment and divorce. It took much longer for me to be healed from the pain of knowing that God allowed this to happen.

Now I know the truth.

We won’t always know why storms rage in our lives. I may never know why my ex-husband left. But I do know why God allowed me to go through this. If I had never been engulfed by this raging storm, if I had never been brought to the absolute depths of real life, to the untold darkness that so many women endure in their life storms, I would never be able to reach out to them. I wouldn’t understand the intense pain. I wouldn’t understand the shame or the magnitude of feelings associated with lies this world tells us. I wouldn’t understand the complete and utter despair. I wouldn’t believe that this could happen to someone walking with Christ. But now I do.

My life is like a Psalm, starting out with anguish and desperation, but ending with my utmost praise to God in every circumstance.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I survived a tempest of life. The storms we face are not always brought on by God, because we live in a world that has turned away from Him. But God is in the storms. God is above the storms. God can control the storms. And God will create new life in the aftermath of the storms that is far more beautiful than what existed before, if we draw near to Him. He will take the broken pieces of our shattered lives and put them back together in a new mosaic that reflects His light in our lives and shines to the heavens.

God worked this kind of miracle as He reshaped my life and created new purpose for me for His glory. He then blessed me with a new marriage to a godly man who is diligently pursuing Jesus. My husband is an amazing gift from God, and we stand united under the banner of Jehovah-sabaoth.

So whether you’re in the turmoil of everyday busyness or the onslaught of a raging life storm, know that there is hope for tomorrow. We are here to encourage one another. Together we can laugh and cry through the joys and sorrows we encounter. And together we can rise above real life and confidently move forward to the good days of love and friendship ahead.

Those days of real life are dark chocolate days.

Joy’s Story: My Changed Life

Joy’s Story: Bio