I remember when I read on Instagram that Rachel Hollis was getting divorced, I cried. It was just another drop in the 2020 bucket - a bucket that seems to be overflowing with pain, heartache and grief. I cried not because I know her, or because I know her husband, or because I was led by them maritally, but purely because of the shock.
And days later, Jen Hatmaker posted a similar post. Another divorce in the Christian ecosphere that seemed unreal. How could this be happening?
Never in a million years would I find myself sharing similar news. That in a matter of hours I would be drowning in my own tears and that I would be living in my house without my husband. That I would be embarking on a divorce. Navigating the roughest waters yet. A drop in the bucket to say the least.
It has been 5 weeks of utter pain, confusion and loss. Of daily grieving - all 5 stages sometimes multiple times a day. As a dear friend put it, I didn't just get broken, I got shattered into dust. To which she followed up - this is where God does His work. He's the potter. He will add some water, rehydrate and make something new.
I believe it.
I am not new to trauma. This isn't my first traumatic rodeo.
In 2011, I went into my 10-week appointment for my first pregnancy only to hear the technician tell me there wasn't a heartbeat. I would then go on to have 3 more miscarriages, 4 in total. And 3 years later, God would go on to do the miracle, making beauty of ashes, bringing us Zoey, who celebrates her 6th birthday on November 8.
In 2016, I would witness my husband having a traumatic brain injury and as he lie on the ground, I was sure he was dead. Months later, God would continue to heal him from the inside out. God did all sorts of miracles the last 4 years since that accident.
I have discovered firsthand that a traumatic life event often leads to some of God's greatest blessings if we are willing to do the work and this one thing...keep reading...
But, if I am being honest, some of my most intimate, in depth prayers didn't get answered in the last four years. The full restoration of our marriage. Complete healing. Those prayers were still recently prayed with faith and hope, believing that the miracle was on its way. But September 11, that changed.
And here I am today, in a season of suffering and in a season of being more surrounded than I ever have been. If I am anything, it is open and authentic. Not perfect. Perhaps too open for some. But, I am a fierce believer in the power of prayer. And the power of community. And you can't have either of those things in isolation. A vessel to healing comes as a result of prayer and community which takes sharing, it takes vulnerability and it takes authenticity.
I recently picked up a devotional that I bought a year ago called "Always We Begin Again" by Leeanna Tankersley and it is of no coincidence that day 2 is called "To Open Up." She explains the whispers she gets - Leeana, always we begin again - and she goes on to say this: "The word begin has unique origins. In fact, there aren't many other words like it. In its etymology, one of the meanings of begin is 'to open up.'"
I feel in ways I have lived this subconsciously as I've trekked through my trauma. I live openly. Exposed, expressive and expectant. Because in my life, when I shine the light on the darkness, God begins his greatest work - healing.
And as I type, I have an actual army of women (and men) that are carrying me in this season. From Italy to England, Illinois to New York and dozens of cities in between. I have my church, Vous church, standing with me. I have my closest friends allowing me to be my full, real, messy, raw self. Allowing me to be angry and reminding me to be gentle on myself. I have friends from years ago - many I haven't spoken to in years - reaching out, sending cards, praying. I have neighbors helping around the house. I have family reminding me that whatever I need, they have my back. I have clients praying for me as we wrap up status calls. I have followers on Instagram reaching out, sharing their pain, what helped them as they navigated divorce and co-parenting.
I could go on and on about the support, the community, the love and grace being outpoured. While I didn't see this coming, this abrupt left turn that has unfolded in my life, I did see one thing coming - my people. My people's people. I am not a stranger to receiving love and prayer from all of my people. And while it's hard these days to be grateful or practice daily gratitude, one thing that is easy is to thank God for every single person who is walking with me on this journey. I've opened up and now He is at work.
Friends, my encouragement for you today is this - crisis can be made manageable in the context of community. Who is in your circle? Who are you sharing your fears and hopes and dreams with? Who do you call when the storm comes? Who do you confide in? Who are you doing life with in the good and in the messy? What area of your life do you need the light to shine on so God can begin to heal?
The habit of active community is critical. The habit of beginning, of opening up, is critical. Critical. If 2020 has taught us anything, it has taught us that we aren't in control. That humans matter far more than work or money or things. It has taught us that crisis isn't avoidable. But, it can be calmed by the people God has placed in our life.
Don't be shy to share. Don't be afraid to ask for prayer. Don't be ashamed of your story. The first thing I did within minutes of finding out my husband was leaving me was call on my people. My best friends. My pastor. My mom. My small group (aka Vous Crew). It has been 5 weeks and I have so many more weeks to go. And I know I will be okay - with God, with my community and with constant daily prayer. Always we begin again.
To every single one of you who has texted, written, showed up at my front door, called, sent flowers, sent gifts, called again, prayed, prayed again, hugged me, hugged Zoey, ate a meal with me, sent wine, drank the wine with me, made soup, sent me devotionals, bought me cheeseboards, prayed again, sent books, gave me Zak the Baker bread (IYKYK), emailed, texted, prayed again, helped me fix my roof, helped me file my taxes, listened to my anger, wiped my tears, talked to me daily - I LOVE YOU. My gratitude is immense.
Yes, I'm shattered but I can fully sense God at work in every aspect of this story. The rehydration is coming. The rebuilding is coming. I'm open for what God will do. And for now, I receive each of your generous hearts and gestures and actions. Thank you for allowing me to be open. Thank you for holding my hand, for holding my heart and for carrying this pain as if it's your own.