Today I saw a beautiful illustration of hope on Instagram. It was a picture of a root deep below the dirt. The caption on that picture said, “Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.” I love that. That’s called hope. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel that tells you that you can make it and better days are coming. That’s what I aspire to represent for others. I want people to see me, hear my story and be inspired by hope.
I learned an important lesson about giving hope. It starts with overcoming shame. We don’t go through storms and make it to the other side so we can hide the past. We aren’t supposed to bury our struggles and challenges. I can’t think of a single person who doesn’t have a story. There’s something lurking in everyone’s closet that is a part of their past. If you don’t get healed from it, that thing will continue to lurk around and you will never be able to inspire hope in others. I personally cannot and will not be ashamed of where I have come from, where I am, or where I’m going. Walking in shame says that I don’t appreciate what God has done for me and keeps me from acknowledging my progress. On top of that shame is like being shackled and bound. It’s oppression. It’s also pride and my bible says that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Like I said I want to be the person that people look to for hope and inspiration. Don’t look at my life and think about perfection. See the struggles and the journey that has brought me to where I am today, then you can look at your own life and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you too can make it. You are bigger than your circumstances and trials in life do not have to define you. You can be victorious while walking through the storm and triumphant when you choose not to be consumed by your issues.
I haven’t always been this passionate about overcoming shame. At the end of 2011 I found out that my husband was “dealing” (selling). Yes. I said it. At the end of 2012, he went to jail to serve a four year sentence. I was devastated. Here I am this Christian woman known for loving Jesus and my husband is a wannabe thug. It’s okay. You can laugh. I was a stay at home with three kids (one with autism) and I had never lived on my own before. I cried out to God and screamed and hollered. I had to move into a new house without the help of my husband. I have been raising our three children since 2012 by myself.
At first I wanted to die. Seriously, I just wanted to die. I couldn’t believe that something like this was happening to me. Not me! Yes me. I even stopped going to church for almost a year. It was too embarrassing. I was so worried about what religious folks and naysayers would say about me that I couldn’t bring myself to go and be ministered to. Crazy huh?
Let me tell you what I learned during that time. First of all, I have the best family in the world. I love them. They love me. Nuff said. They rallied around me and my sister, God bless her and her husband, they have come to my rescue so many times I lost count. This journey was as much about my husband’s rehabilitation as it was about mine. For years I have learned to rely on others. The thought of standing on my own two feet was terrifying. I am the prime example of the damsel in distress who awaits her knight in shining armor. I had to decide that I was either going to be crushed by this trial or I was going to grow stronger. Like I’ve said before, I have always had a desire to motivate and encourage others so I had to make a decision that I was NOT going to allow this situation to take over. I am not someone else’s mistakes. I am not a damsel in distress. I am not weak. I am an overcomer. I am a warrior and I am not alone.
I started reading the Bible after I picked myself up off of the floor. “He will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). I eventually went back to church and even got involved in the infant’s ministry and I served as a greeter/usher a few times. I had to move beyond self. It was hard. I stuffed tears back into my eyes many times. (You know how you look all the way up so the tears roll back?)
Let’s cut to the end shall we? I went back to school with a determination like never before. I worked and really learned what life is like as a single parent. It aint’ easy, but I survived. I learned to pay bills…on time. I learned to take out that nasty trash…on time. I learned to be thankful for every blessing that I have. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and got up. I graduated from Regent University on May 9, 2015. I had an amazing teacher that talked me into writing this blog.
Guess what else? My marriage is the most surprising part of the whole story in my opinion. We didn’t fall apart. Nope. Even though our union seems impossible, I learned that nothing is impossible with God. He keeps showing me this over and over again. It’s refreshing each time I relearn the lesson. We are still a work in progress. I don’t want to take away from his testimony because he can’t wait to get out and share it so I won’t go too much further on that topic. I will end with this. It ain’t easy, but I survived and I’m doing well. I have a smile on my face and I’m happy. I haven’t been able to say that in a long time. I’m happy. Feels good to say and to type. Guess what? You can make it too! Don’t let the naysayers and religious folks keep you from walking in victory. Hold your head up. You are an overcomer who triumphs not because you’re perfect, but because you don’t quit. Don’t roll over. So long as you have breath in your lungs you keep fighting and keep believing. “He will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Be inspired! #loveshopeheals