A soft red glow from the numbers on the clock illuminates the wall behind the nightstand…3:30 am shone bright in my eyes taunting me as I lay wide awake…
Thoughts swirling endlessly through my mind…toss, turn, and toss back again. Tears wet my cheeks and a tightness overcomes my chest, my heart filled with an ache. Things not allowed, yet still overtaking me…all without my consent. No matter how tight I shut my eyes and try to close off my mind to them, they continue whispering to me. I lay…and listen. The stillness of the house, the darkness outside the window…the glow of the clock showing each passing minute. The thoughts trying to invade me…
It’s been four years, going on twenty-four…and still they rise up on occasion, suddenly without notice and without my consent. They invade my mind…those stinking thoughts. At some point I felt certain I had taken control of them. After all, I was strong and could rise above all that I endured…all the hate-filled words, scornful looks, anger-clinched expressions, rudeness in the disguise of jokes…all the crazy-making. All of which had once defined my life for two decades and kept me walking on eggshells, while my soul silently died within me. None of it would I allow to keep me trapped in a yesteryear that had spun over and over like the dizzying spin cycle of a dryer.
I chose to take control of them, those stinking thoughts. I tried so hard to see myself through God’s eyes, focusing on how He saw me and what He thought of me. Hadn’t I tried? Hadn’t I conquered those thoughts, those lies? I had won, hadn’t I?
I’ve seen you living chin brave through the hurt and how you keep taking one step out of bed and one through the door and how you scale mountains by relentlessly taking steps forward. The way you keep walking? You’re no victim. You’re a Thriver. You may bleed but you rise. ~Ann Voskamp (Read in full here)
I have often referred to myself as a victim of marital abuse, yet have always hated both of those words.
A victim sounds so weak, so vulnerable, so…helpless.
Abuse…so harsh, so hateful, so…wrong.
But wasn’t I at one time vulnerable and weak to the hatefulness that was so wrong? I believe it was a cause and effect…hatefulness creates a vulnerability…harshness creates a weakness…wrongfulness towards another creates a sense of helplessness. And through it all…anger, resentfulness and hate start to overtake the mind of the victim as their only thought is to be free.
Four years ago when all that abuse walked out the door, the world as I knew it rotated suddenly on it’s axis changing what had been the norm and shaking me to the very core of my being. And I slowly shifted too from being a victim to becoming…a thriver.
In my anguish, I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. ~Psalm 118:5
And as the life I had known for two decades spun a different direction, I felt lost at first. Almost as if I was wandering through my days seeking a new normal, looking for a new reality and at times, admittedly, seeking familiarity. And all those thoughts that endlessly muddled up my mind needed to get out, needed releasing and so I began typing. In the darkness of the night or sometimes the stillness of the early morning, the bright screen filled with words seen blurry through tear-filled eyes and frantically released from a pain-driven heart. Words strewn across the screen filling this blog with my story. Words raw with pain, heartache, indecision, worry, fear and…freedom.
Amazingly, people came to my blog and read those words, those simple straight-from-the-heart words filled with honest emotion, but always punctuated with joy…yes, joy. Any joy to be found at any given moment of the day. For being grateful kept me from drowning in all those other emotions and helped to keep those stinking thoughts at bay. Joy kept me looking up and focused on the most important thing in my life…God. And as I looked up and learned to trust, He directed my steps each and every day. He kept me putting one foot in front of the other. And I did. I learned to keep moving no matter what…putting one foot on the floor each morning, taking one step out of the door and sometimes not-so-bravely continuing to scale those mountains. The more I moved, stepping out even when I couldn’t see the path clearly, the more I started to thrive.
A week ago, on my birthday, these words were waiting amidst other well wishes:
You have no idea on how much you changed my life just by reaching out to me with your words of compassion last year. Things aren’t perfect but they are better. Your small action made a big difference to me and gave me the strength that I needed.
These words, these heart-felt words, were one of the best birthday messages I received that day. Words written by a woman who found herself at my blog a year ago. A woman like many others who ventured there while struggling with heartache, fear and all the what-if’s that tag along behind us in this life. And after reading what she needed to on my blog, she reached out. Her unread email sat highlighted in my inbox that night a year ago just begging me to read it…to read her words. Words seeking out a lifeline. A lifeline to keep her afloat and help pull her to a place where she could find solid ground to begin taking steps in her spinning-out-of-control life. And that night, after anxiously waiting for the house to become quiet, unbeknownst to me, I threw out a lifeline.
Words can have such a powerful impact on us. They can cause destruction, tearing apart the soul. Or they can be thrown out like a lifeline offering hope and encouragement. And as we each walk our journey in this sometimes crazy life, we might just find that the words we share can make a difference to someone traveling a similar path.
And our thoughts…if not taken captive can hold us hostage. Those stinking thoughts whispering lies which keep us lying wide-eyed in the darkness of the night, trying to keep us from finding rest and peace. Sometimes it is hard to quiet them down, sometimes something will trigger them, but when we truly rely on the Truth and seek to find ourselves in Him, we can take captive those thoughts…and close our eyes and mind to them, and find rest.
My life has changed greatly in the past couple years. Life is good. Yet life is still life and brings with it ups and downs. And sometimes those stinking thoughts from yesteryear, well they try to find a way into my mind to twist my thinking, to throw me off into a life of misery and distort all that is good. It is then that I go back to how God sees me, how God loves me and find myself again in Him.
And continuing to be grateful every day for even the smallest of things keeps the joy punctuating my life. I’m grateful today for:
*sunshine peeking through the dark rain clouds
*a life changed
*moving forward with plans to fulfill a dream
*love and safety in the arms of my husband
*sharing a coffee and chat with a friend
*warmth from the fire
*cooking healthy food for my family
*curling up with a good book
*folding warm clothes from the dryer
*running errands with her son
What are you grateful for today? Where do you find your joy?