We are so excited to be sharing the first in our new series "Freedom Friday...Real Stories."
This is an opportunity for women like you to share the freedom Christ has given you. It is our prayer that women will step a little out of their comfort zone and take the time to write how God has worked in them and through them. How He has brought about FREEDOM. And then hitting that little send button and letting the world know the peace and joy you have found in Him.
Today we are kicking it off with Lindsay. Mama of 2 sweet boys. Wife to her high school sweetheart. She has so eloquently put into words what we want Freedom Letters to be about. Take a moment and read her story. It's real and it's honest and it glorifies our God. When you are done, we would love for you to click on that comment button and leave her some "love." Maybe how her story touched you, how you can relate to what she went through, or just a good southern "Thank you!" We want women to connect, rally around each other, be the head cheerleader for our sisters in Christ.
Do you ever think back to the “good ole days?” You know the days where life was seemingly perfect; full of love, sunshine, tree climbing, Barbies, lemonade stands, ladybugs and the ice cream truck. I remember those days like they were yesterday. Back then, I had no clue that life wasn’t going to sustain the lofty bubble that I had grown to feel so free in. The sad truth is ignorance is bliss.
For me, elementary, middle, and high school were filled with positive experiences and only a handful of bumps in the road. I had incredible friends, supportive parents who taught me self control and responsibility, and I felt good about being me.
Unfortunately, when I was in college, my sunshiny world came to a screeching halt.
My parents went through a difficult divorce that left me with several unintentional wounds. I mean, I was in college for crying out loud. Life was supposed to be nothing but staying up late with new found friends, intramural sports, Greek life, deep conversations about trivial stuff and lifelong memories- oh, and some classes thrown in here and there. While I had all of those things, and an abundance of people to share them with, I felt very alone. In fact, I usually have a hard time remembering things that my friends will recall about our college days. It’s not that I wasn’t there; it’s that I blocked a lot of it out. It’s easier to count it as a blur than to remember the sadness I was feeling, even though I am certain I had a smile on my face at the time. I became great at pretending.
I band aided a lot of my hurt by filling my plate up with more and more responsibility. From the outside looking in, it would appear that I had it all together and I was rocking it! In reality, I was staying super busy so that I wouldn’t have time to be sad or vulnerable. Neither of those emotions are terrible things or unusual, but I wanted to be in control. Lindsay needed to keep it together and I needed to show others that I could, in fact, keep it together.
My junior year of college I got engaged to my high school sweetheart, Craig. While a wedding was something else to add to my plate, I knew I loved him with every fiber of my being, and I thought marriage was something I could do well because I had seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. “How hard could it be?” I thought. “I would never make the mistakes that would end in something crazy like divorce. That would never happen to me.”
You know how they say, “Never say never?” I’m not sure who “they” is, but I know there’s a good reason “they” say that.
One sweet little boy and five years later, things got hard. Real hard.
I made some terrible mistakes in my marriage. I hurt a lot of people, my family and friends being a portion of those people. As a result of selfish judgment on my part, Craig and I came terrifyingly close to losing our marriage. I almost lost the part of my life that was bringing me back to the free feelings of love, sunshine and the tree climbing.
Let me just be real here: when you see a legal document that tells you what weekends and hours you are allowed to see your son, your own flesh and blood; your perspective changes.
Many hours of prayer, fasting, and cries out to God went by. After hearts were changed, God restored our marriage. THANK GOD, He restored our marriage. I didn’t deserve it. But He did it.
After only two months of getting our life back on track, God surprised us with a little miracle. I was pregnant and beyond thrilled. To us, the news of this baby was just proof that we were going to make it. Hard times were in the past, but new life was before us. We celebrated Christmas and New Years with starry eyed joy, expectations, and excitement. We felt so blessed that God would trust us with another little baby despite our rough patches. Our oldest son, who was three at the time, was ecstatic about being a big brother. After so much pain, things felt perfect again.
Then came the curve ball.
If you have ever been pregnant, you know that when they do early ultrasounds your eyes go straight to the pattern of that beating heart and until you find it, you can barely breathe and your palms get sweaty. At 13 weeks pregnant, after some strange feelings and no weight gain, I was frantically searching for that rhythm. After what seemed like an eternity, the radiologist got very still and with my eyes transfixed on the screen, I quietly mumbled, “There’s no heartbeat, is there?” She came over, grabbed my hands tight, and I just sat there motionless like a rag doll. I felt so…lost. I had gone to my doctor that day to just ease my fears and I was certain they would send me home feeling silly I had even come in; after all, we were passed the “hump” of 12 weeks. So I came alone. All alone in a dimmed room with photographs of cute babies everywhere and with this horrific news to share with my husband.
I went through the next couple of days in a similar daze that I felt through college. Only this was worse. I felt like I deserved this tragedy. I felt that I was crazy to ever think it would work out in my favor. Why would God bless someone like me?
One evening I was sitting numb on the couch wrapped up in a blanket and I could hear my three year old singing upstairs, “He’s got the whoooole world, in His hands. He’s got the whooole wide world in His hands.” Next think I knew, he came bounding down the stairs smiling ear to ear with blue icing all over his snow white face from a cake that my mom had brought us because she asked me what I wanted to eat and all I could come up with was “cheap birthday cake.” He was filthy and, if you know me, you know I can be a little uptight when it comes to cleanliness. It was the most beautiful shade of blue I had ever seen. All I could do was kiss his stained face, hold him tight, and love on him because I knew right then and there that, even though I was disabled with sadness, I was beyond blessed.
The next day or so I was putting some things away in what would have been the nursery. As I was leaving, I, out of habit, shut the door because we never used that room. I got a few steps to mine and Craig's bedroom and I heard Him. I audibly heard the voice of my God. He said "I have not shut the door on you. Go open that door and leave it opened. You know my timing is perfect." Through crocodile tears of joy, peace, and a million other emotions rolled into one, I finally began to feel free. I could breathe again. Although I had asked for forgiveness a multitude of times, I knew, at that moment, I had been forgiven and that God needed me to let go so that He could take over. So, I did. I let go and I let Him lead. We left the door wide open.
Three months later, in late April, we found out that we were expecting. Several anxious moments were had and there were some preterm complications, but on December 3rd, our beautiful son was born. Two gorgeous boys with the sweetest spirits, loving hearts, and dimples you could eat ice cream from. God is good.
A part of us feels undeserving of our boys, but it has taken us to a whole new level of knowing that it is our job to show them a Godly marriage with unconditional love and encouragement. As for our angel, we know she is waiting for us in Heaven and that she is thrilled to have brown eyed, ticklish, sweet, giggly brothers here on earth that she will meet someday. Until then, we know she is in good hands and that she is cheering us on all the way.
I’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years and I know there is an abundance that God is still teaching me. The biggest thing that’s surfaced is this: Don’t judge. You have no idea where someone has been, what battle they are fighting, or where they are headed. You might think you have them all figured out, and whether what you think you know is good or bad; don’t make up someone’s story for them. Everyone needs to be loved. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone can be restored. Everyone can take back that freedom they felt during the “good ole days.” God has it waiting for us. We just have to accept it. Put down our pride and get out of the way. Once we do that, we’ll come to terms that WE were made for so much more.
It is humbling that life is again full of love, sunshine, tree climbing, lemonade stands, ladybugs and the ice cream truck. (Note: two boys means no Barbies, but that’s fine by me! They are a distorted version of reality anyway, right?) The biggest difference now is that I know freedom includes all of those things, but most importantly it includes the big love from a big God. The faithful, gracious, perfect timing, forgiving love of Him. He knows that I’m far from perfect, and He’s cool with that. That, my friends, is freedom.