Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Year Of Change

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." -John 16:33.

My dad used to tell me to not rush growing up. He always said "life is hard and will throw many things at you." I always knew that as long as I had him by my side, I could get through anything. What he neglected to tell me was that he wouldn't be around to help me through those times. 

It would be easy to say that November 10, 2012 was the hardest day of my life. But it wasn't. The shock and denial surrounding everything going on blocked any real emotion...the days that have passed in the past year have been some of the hardest in my life. I first wanted to say thank you to the friends and family that have been here for me through my spouts of anger, depression, sadness, and negativity. I am so blessed to have people in my life praying, encouraging, and lifting me up during those times. 

While it is true that I have had some really hard days, I wanted to dedicate this post (in honor of my dad) to the changes God has made in my life since I have lost my dad.

"The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." -Psalm 32: 8

I moved to Fayetteville, NC still holding a lot of this pain, anger, and confusion. It's hard to move to a new place knowing no one, having a new role (how am I supposed to act as a wife??), and then having your husband leave for a month 2 weeks after moving in. 

Halfway relying on God, I asked him to help me through this adjustment. Little did I know, He was not only going to help me through this adjustment, but change my heart and mind all together. While Alex was gone, I started going to a Ft. Bragg Navigator's Bible study. I saw wives and mothers seeking after Christ in all areas of their lives and holding each other to an accountability I had never seen before. Not only that, but they were welcoming and immediately started investing in me and my faith. God started doing a work in my life and showed me the importance of reading the Bible and spending time in prayer with him. I also started various books about the role of a wife and praying for and supporting your husband. I really thought Alex was going to come back and I was going to be the perfect wife...I mean, I was doing my homework, right?

Well...no. I was not and I am still not the perfect wife. When he came home, it seemed like we could not agree on anything and bickered all the time. I was so confused by this because I had been praying and spending time with God. Why wasn't he making our marriage joyful and fulfilling? Why am I now dealing with unhappiness in another area of my life? Why am I putting him through this unhappiness?

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is." -Ephesians 3:17-18

I would share details of the different things God has done in our marriage, but I wanted to keep the focus on what God has done in my life. (plus it wouldn't be fair to explain it all through my perspective :)) Though I felt like I was doing the right things to have peace, have a joyful marriage, and get through grief, I was still missing the most important part of following Christ. I really wasn't trusting him with my life. I have two inner demons I have struggled with my whole life-anxiety and anger. I let things build up, avoid confrontation, and let relationships fail. I also worry about everything, sometimes to the point of extreme sickness. Because of both of these things, I like to have control over my life. 

"Always inside this messI have found forgivenessMercy as infinite as You" -Rend Collective "Second Chance"
To really see a change in my life, my heart and mind, my relationships, my marriage, my perspectives...I had to let go. Let go of my plans. Let go of Alex. Let go of our marriage. Let go of my family. Let go of our money. Let go of anxiousness. Let go of anger. Let go of resentment. Let go of other people's opinions of me (and caring about them!). Before letting go, I had to spend some time apologizing for putting my own way above His. My way has caused a lot of broken relationships, hurt, and other consequences I have had to deal with. His way isn't a perfect road filled with promises of promotions, salary increases, perfect health, perfect future children, long lives, and a perfect marriage. Through the loss of my father, and the loss of my life to Christ, I know His road is one filled with peace, forgiveness, endless second chances, and love that never ends. Since finding my value in Christ, I have strength in the hard days, peace in the sadness, and gratitude for all the blessings in my life. 
My prayer is that you can find this same hope in whatever you're going through--whether it is a sad or joyful time in your life.
Thank you mom and dad for raising me in the truth...with your sacrificial and unending love, I am so lucky to have an earthly example of His love. Mom, I love you so much and am so inspired by your strength and you always looking Up. Kaeli and Zach, I love you both so much. Although our lives are all busy and pulling us in different directions, I hope you can continue to find this same hope and peace in Christ. Alex, you have been one of the best blessings God has given me. Your patience, serving heart, and joyful spirit are things I thank God for every day. 

"You are my battle-shield, sword for the fight
You are my dignity, You're my delight
You're my soul's shelter and You're my high tower.
Come, raise me heavenward, O Power of my power.
I don't want riches or man's empty praise:
You're my inheritance, now and always;
You, and You only, the first in my heart:
High King of heaven, my treasure You are." -Rend Collective "You are My Vision"