I expect it is safe to say that we all have challenges we are hoping to put behind us as not only a new year, but a new decade is upon us. While it is always exciting dealing with anticipation of new possibilities, it is important to not forget where we have come from...what those challenges in our lives have created for us as well as revealed in us so that we can learn, grow and offer more than we would have been able to otherwise.
When I reflect, and reflecting on a decade, especially during this stage of my life, encompassing a wide range of experiences, I realize I have grown from and through each of them. I began as a still "enamored by love" wife, an energetic young mother and a child that was still residing within, attempting to make sense of the new responsibilities while confronting the old demons that were always there...or so it seemed. I ended this decade as a steadfast wife, committed to my husband, not just because of duty, but respect for the man he has become (and the man he was impressed me enough to marry him), a confident mother in a family that collided, with an ability to see each child's heart, insecurities and strengths that enable me to direct and dictate the pace for each as they find their place within the world and begin to apply their uniqueness into niches that exist...hopefully for the purpose of making this world a place where hope still exists and leaders still lead, to bring those who lack hope and purpose, inspiration and direction.
Somewhere along the way, I realized, as I transitioned from my determined and optimistic self, that we all have within us an energy that supercedes our ability to eminate enjoyable life and it simply enables us to live. When our hearts are in turmoil, and there is nowhere to run and no escape route, we are forced to turn inward and hopefully upward, for the wisdom that only a Creator of our soul is capable of sustaining and sprinkling with hope. There is no way we could attain this perspective...one that reveals life where there has been fresh and unending death.
In my life, and I am sure any of you can identify with this as it is relative to each of our own life experiences, my new husband was no longer available to me the way he had been and I had expected. He was caught in a hell that he was determined to find a way out of and I was determined to have him come back into reality as a hope and voice for others suffering. At the time, I didn't realize that when he came back, he would not be who he once was. My once "enamored by love" self would have to see through a new lens of hope if I was going to be able to continue the journey alongside him with a fresh perspective that was going to be of even more value, but not to myself as I had once anticipated, but to others as I soon learned that was where a life well lived would ultimately find its value.
The very hope that I had in him (Danny) for completing me, had to be understood so that I could trust in the One (Jesus) who wanted me to be satisfied by Him, the lover of my soul, and not a man who could not possibly provide the soul satisfaction that every human desires.
As purpose is born, perspective is as well. When we align our purpose with God's agenda, it isn't hard to find that satisfaction. It comes to us automatically. It is as if someone turned on the water and an empty spring was filled. My existence has elements of emptiness riddled within the pages and yet God has enabled further painful experiences to bring hope and healing into my life and now I can see that there are glimpses for me that this will manifest in even greater ways into the lives of others than had I not had that pain of rejection and heartache of loneliness and isolation. The difference is, and it wasn't this way until I surrendered my will, not only am I healing, but I am hoping in an even greater way than before, not of what I had "seen" in my own mind's eye for how I thought my life would best reflect my goals, but now I see through God's eyes, and wait as He directs my steps with each opportunity that comes my way. The opportunities would not be there if it were based on my desires in the same way because they would be self-gratifying which is never sustaining or fulfilling at a heart level. "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him." Isaiah 64:4
Even as parents, we begin our journey with an expectation of how we will raise our children, how they will respond as we do, and how our family will reflect our values and priorities. It seems that we can package this nicely and precisely and the result will be predictable. Once again, my life's example may be more extreme than most, but it is still reflective of the fact that regardless of our determination, effort and expectations, life does not cooperate with our intentions. While I initially thought this to be a cruel reality, I now realize that it is precisely what is necessary for the life well-lived. I was listening to JK Rowling in a clip to the graduating class at Harvard and she said this: "So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized and I was still alive...and still had a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all."
While the circumstances of her life are dramatically different than my own, her words resonated with what has been learned through my own dashed expectations. And this is where I find myself...between rock bottom and hope. "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:5.
She concluded her thought with this: "We speak about success all the time but failure doesn't get spoken about enough. Everyone involved in Harry Potter has experienced failure. While I do not want to romaniticize failure, rock bottom is liberating."
So regardless of what type of failure we have experienced in the past decade of this life, do not be held back and crippled or worse yet, paralyzed by it. Allow it to be your building block of hope. Do not let the past dictate your future, unless it liberates your senses to experience the desire within each of us to experience a life well lived. That life can only be lived well with purpose and hope and releasing ourselves to the process of pain which is used for the purpose of healing the wounds that debilitate our hopes. Do not let what you have experienced hold you back, allow it to enable you to apperate your soul for the potential to bloom among the thorns of your life for the purpose that exists beyond this life.