Blog by Karen Fischer
I can’t catch my breath.
My heart is throbbing out of my chest.
Waves of dizzying nausea are crashing over me.
My blurry eyes can’t focus.
My face is flushed and burning, skin tingling, finger tips prickling.
I look at my shaking hands and wonder who they belong to. I’m freezing and hot at the same time. Am I dying? Oh, but if I were then all of this would stop. Uncontrollable anxiety, panic and loss are overwhelming my nervous system.
The hot water beat down as I sat on the shower floor clenched in a ball, asking God how I deserved to be here. Such a huge contrast to the carefree little 6 year old girl who loved nothing more than to roller skate down the street of Jamaica Drive in her tutu singing to the top of her lungs with the plastic wheels attached to her feet clanking off beat down the asphalt street. So full, so free, so innocent. That little 6 year old girl believed without a doubt that Jesus was her best friend and her protector.
I longed to be back there again. You see, I followed “the formula” and thought I knew the ingredients to the secret “Christian” sauce of a blessed life. So how am I here? The final realization that I was now officially a single mom and my marriage was legally over after years of believing, hoping and desperately standing by my vows and seeking Godly counsel hit hard (so thankful for a church that will speak truth in love!). Divorce was NEVER an option in my mind. I dated a Christian, we served in church, gave our tithes and offerings and did the whole premarital counseling thing. I was a virgin for crying out loud!! Didn’t I do what was expected, what was right? I just knew beyond a doubt that we would change the world together. How was I so off the mark? I was overwhelmed with disillusionment, shame, anger and loss.
I had no idea how to navigate this new single life with a toddler in tow. To make ends meet, we had to sell our home, most of our belongings and I had to find a job – fast, not to mention a new place to live that I could afford! There was no magic prayer or miraculous worship playlist that could pretty things up for me and instantly heal my heart and mind.
BUT the one thing I KNEW to do was to stay connected to the place that I considered home, my Church. It has always been my home. I may have run from it in my teen years and criticized its clicks and culture, put my often-unrealistic expectations on it BUT at the end of the day, isn’t that the picture of family? When we hit rock bottom, we long for family – right? This was my saving grace! This was the place I brought my “whys” and hows to, where I brought my tears, my anger, my doubts to. I had to get past my pride, shame and worry of what people thought of me. The first step was to just show up. I wanted desperately to hide, to run, to start over but Pastor Steve’s words echoed in my ears “wherever you go there you are” and “never make important decisions in a valley”. Staying close to God, and being planted in my local church were the things that got me through this extremely dark and lonely journey. This is where I learned to truly submit and to stay planted. Proverbs 3:6 (NIV) says “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 4:26-27 (NIV) says “Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or left; keep your foot from evil.”
Once I allowed myself to be vulnerable at church I noticed there were others who had gone through similar situations, I wasn’t alone. Being in a Connect Group and accountable to leadership helped me grow and correct my thinking. Like it or not bad things do happen, the world is imperfect, we sometimes suffer the consequences of other people’s choices and sometimes we don’t get to know the why behind the what. The more I submitted my thinking and feelings, the more God invaded my heart and met me like never before. I still battled anxiety and fear but God was right there with me in the midst of the battle.
I also had this 2 year old boy that deserved a healthy, whole, and present mom. Looking back I realize the immense love for my son was what kept me going. He was the one waking me up at sunrise saying “mommy I see the sun’s tail”. His innocence in it all is what would draw me back from the depression I was continually fighting. It ignited a drive to protect his heart at all cost, so he had a chance of a good life. But I knew to be able to continue fighting I would need to grow closer to God and fight like there was no tomorrow. I had a picture of Sarah Conner from the movie “Terminator” that I kept with me as a reminder that I was fighting for my son, not just myself. It might sound silly but I could relate to her in many ways. In the Terminator series she started out as a timid damsel in distress, but by the end of the series she became this hardened warrior committed to raising her son to fulfill his destiny. I related more to the timid damsel and needed to be more of a warrior and embrace my new role as the head of my new little family.
So that’s what I became, a warrior for my son. I went to church broken, messed up, and afraid. Doing it afraid was my way of not letting my emotions and anxiety win. Showing up and doing it one decision at a time…gradually and at my own pace. I may have felt abandoned and forgotten, but in hind sight I now know that Jesus was right there, ever present – His hand was in every moment of my journey. Fast forward 13 years and I can’t help but throw down in tears – but this time they are tears of gratitude and thanksgiving – “Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon.” Psalm 37:5-6 (NIV)
With an aireal view of the journey now, I can see every intricate thread God weaved into each moment. Like an amazing father, He let me learn, feel my own strength and helped me grow beyond what I could imagine. He called out the warrior from within the damsel in distress that I was, even though I didn’t “feel” God’s presence or see His hand at work. He was at work in every moment. He got an ear full of my anger, doubt, fear but again, like a good father, He is ever patient and full of grace and mercy and unlike me, unoffendable! “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15 (NIV)
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”- Zeph 3:17 (NIV)
It may have been a 13 year journey, but it was about HIS timing, not mine. It wasn’t a period of living the single life of dating and having fun. I needed the time to learn and heal and He needed the time for all the pieces of His plan to fall into place. Had I done it in my time and my way – I wouldn’t have met my husband and would have missed out on this amazing new chapter in my life. It will inevitably have its own new set of challenges with blending a family, but I know that “He who promises is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
Jesus, I thank you that your promises for us have no expiration date! Thank You for being a good father who will move heaven and earth to bring us to our destiny no matter how winding the path may seem. I pray that every single mom reading this today would be courageous enough to trust You and not lose heart. To trust You enough to see herself as You see her – a tender warrior with the strength and ability to lead her home. I pray she will submit her beautiful heart to You even when it’s tough and allow You to heal the broken places. Lord, give her sight to see Your hand at work in her kids lives and the assurance that You are in passionate pursue of them. Thank You Jesus that You are continually writing her story and the best chapters are yet to be written.
In Your name, AMEN