My Side of the Story…

If you read this blog, you’ve picked up on pieces of my story, and if you attend C3 Church or listen to Byron’s podcasts, you’ve heard other pieces…

Every person’s story has many pieces to it – like a giant and intricate puzzle – and the reality is that even each “piece” is multifaceted…

This Sunday, Byron spoke of part of our story as a couple…about our separation and near-divorce 5 years ago.  As always, he was incredibly gracious and kind and put all of the responsibility on himself for our marriage…our world seeming to burn right in front of us.

But that’s his side of the story…

Here’s mine:

What happened to our marriage 5 years ago really began many years earlier.  I grew up in a seemingly happy, Christian home – the preacher’s daughter.  While I would not compare my upbringing and childhood to others who suffered horrible abuse and awful conditions, there was still abuse – even if everything looked perfect on the outside.  I just learned to cover…smile and cover.  

By the time Byron and I were married, and I went from “Preacher’s Daughter” to “Preacher’s Wife”, I was an expert at covering my true feelings, but the cracks began to show…

By 25, I had two beautiful daughters and although we were “seminary-poor”, we looked like the perfect family…except for the fact that at 5’9″ I weighed 100 lbs., suffered with debilitating depression and never slept more than 3 hours at a time.  But, if you asked…I was great.

By 35, I had 4 beautiful children and it was a daily struggle to hide the storm that was building inside me.  I gained 40 lbs. in 18 months even though I hardly ate, I was having “night terrors” and I began to think that my beautiful family would certainly be better off without me…

Still, if you had asked me, I would have said that I was a little stressed, but I would have never acknowledged that I was toying with burning my life to the ground…

Over the next 6-7 years, Byron tried everything to pull me out of the deep end of the ocean, but I didn’t want to be rescued.  I would have rather drown than to admit that I had been so badly broken in my childhood and beyond, that I truly didn’t believe I was worth saving.

So, by 42 I was living separately from Byron, and I did the “every other week” thing with my kids, and I had to look at their faces and know they were suffering…

all because I decided to burn myself to the ground just to stop the pain.

But, I learned something:

I learned that if you light a match and burn your house down, you’re not the only one who gets burned.  

I learned that if you run away, you take your pain with you.

I learned that you are not defined by what’s been done to you, but you will always carry what you’ve done to others.

I learned that there’s a difference between pain and remorse.  Other’s can cause you deep pain, but remorse comes from your own choices…and it’s a much heavier burden to bear.

I learned that I can choose to end the cycle of pain and remorse.  I can choose to be the person I needed when I was growing up.  I can create the family that I never had.  

I can deal with my pain and stop it from dealing with me with every breath.

I can.

I have the power to choose a new path.

You do as well.

We can’t just light a match and walk away…

Pain only goes away when it heals properly.  

Grace is the only fire strong enough to burn down hell…and it can burn down the hell your living in, if you let it.

I still have the scars to prove that I’ve been through the fire, but thank God, I’m also living proof that you don’t have to be consumed by it.

Peace to you…


The Journey Home…

With “National Suicide Prevention Week” (September 5-11) in mind, I was rereading some previous blogs…trying to remember the journey. I need to keep the hope always in front of me – to be reminded of why we must continue to move forward. I needed to be reminded to share the message that I have received…the love letter – even though my uniform may be tattered and torn. To relay the message of hope to all of the other war-weary soldiers out there, on their own journey home. 

Because we all must keep moving in the direction of hope.

A Message from Home (25 May, 2007):

I recently watched a movie which reminded me of the one thing that people have in common: the need to belong, to be loved above anything or anyone else – to feel “home”. In this beautiful yet brutal civil war movie, no amount of physical hardship can stand in the way of a soldier’s journey home to the only place where he truly feels loved. So, he trudges across bitter terrain and endures the utter lack of food, shelter, and safety – all to return to where he feels he belongs. He doesn’t even know if his pre-war sweetheart has waited for him. He only has one letter which begs him to return soon, “…if you are fighting, stop your fighting and return to me. If you are marching, stop marching and return to me. Return to me.” 

So he does. It takes him months, perhaps longer. Yet, nothing deters him because he has to keep moving in the direction of HOPE.

We all do that, don’t we? – move in the direction of hope. The only other option is to give up and die. It is a part of the human condition to experience the desperate need for love, to belong, to be home. It gives us breath – without it we die.
There are people all around us who don’t know where the hope lies. They would give anything to feel that they truly belong. They would traverse any distance if they could only receive the message that there is someone, anyone who would be waiting for them – a place where they would be received and accepted. Don’t we, as Christ-followers, know that such a place exists? We’ve received the message. God has said to us all, “I love you – desperately, passionately, above anything else. Stop marching. Stop fighting. Return to me. Return to me and be home.”
Maybe we need to be reminded of the love-letter in the pocket of our tattered uniform. Maybe we need to read it again to remember what lies in store for us. Maybe we need to get up and get back on the road home. Or maybe we just need to give someone else the message, so they can begin to travel in the direction of hope.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

Today is a new day to keep moving in the direction of hope and to offer that hope to someone else.

The struggle will lead us home.

Peace to you…


Living Proof…

We all have a story…a path. Sometimes it can seem like we were placed on that path and we are powerless to ever veer from it.

My recent physical challenges – dealing with severe injury to my neck and back in a car accident, coping with the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, and battling a brain tumor – are really just one small aspect of my path…

For many years I struggled under the weight of debilitating depression. I was on every medication possible, and still just barely escaped suicide. At my lowest point, I chose to leave my marriage because I just felt too unworthy to have a “good life”…

I truly believed that my husband…my children would just be better of without me.

The decision to take my life back was humbling and hard…and I’m still fighting.
Besides a completely holistic approach to my health and a decision that the answers to my chronic pain and depression don’t lie in any prescription bottle, my biggest challenge has been my own thoughts.

You see, words carry weight. They carry within them either life or death. And your thoughts are nothing more than the words you say to yourself. So many times I’ve been guilty of saying things to myself that I would never say to someone else…and if someone else said them to someone that I love, I would turn into some kind of ninja warrior, Jedi-type lioness…

But yet I allowed myself to say such things to myself.

And then I realized that true health is more than what you’re eating and drinking – it’s also what you’re thinking and saying.

You are not just placed upon a path that you can’t change. You are not the sum total of everything that has ever happened to you. You are more than all the mistakes you’ve ever made.

You are precious.
Don’t live below your privilege as a child of God.
Don’t sacrifice your future on the alter of the present.
You are more.

God created you – He will deliver you, restore you and sustain you!
If you want to tell yourself something – tell yourself that!

The only way to begin again is to begin…again. Some days it’s not even one foot in front of the other, it’s just about standing back up.
You can do it…I’m living proof.

Peace to you…