Sitting alone and crying was my new normal. Grappling with my “status” consumed me and I didn’t like any of it. Of all the hard things in my life, this was definitely the worst. Divorce was not unfamiliar, but it knocked the wind out of me when it became my descriptor.
My silent hopes and dreams fell into a thousand pieces at my feet. Questions moved in with doubt and my identity was suddenly hanging in the balance. Was I still qualified to volunteer at church? Would it be weird to hang out with the same friends? Where would I “fit” now that I was single and a mom?
Going to church felt like the biggest obstacle-second to loneliness. Sitting in church reminded me of my unwanted status. Alone. The story I told myself, as I sat desperate to be fed, was that everyone around me was happily married. Everyone around me also had marvelous lunch plans after church. Not me, though. I was shipwrecked on the island of singleness-alone, starving, and afraid.
Seasons of transition are tough to navigate because the unknown often gives birth to anxiety. This chapter in my life was no exception. I cried more tears than I can count during my “renaming” season. Sometimes–the tears were driven by fear. Other times, the tears came from anger over being blindsided or an innocent inquiry about the kids when they’d been away on a visit for what felt like weeks. I had zero control over anything. As my illusion of control crumbled in my hands, I became acutely aware of my need for surrender. I couldn’t fix my situation, nor could other people. My world was tilted and I had no choice but to lay it all down.
For some reason, I continued showing up. My tears didn’t cease from flowing, but I discovered it didn’t really matter. Honesty mattered. I began telling God about the depth of my disappointment. As I took baby steps in healing, I could sense a redefining slowly taking place. To be redefined you have to be willing to be something new. My heart very slowly began opening to newness.
Although my horizontal relationships were shipwrecked, I knew my vertical relationship with God didn’t have to be. Peace with God was exactly what my wounded heart needed, and I realized I didn’t have that. Instead, I had been wrestling with God. I felt like a disappointment. I believed He had sidelined me for being a failure. I felt lost and in need of rescue.
The beauty of relational reconciliation is that it is a gift. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, I received reconciliation with God. When I lifted my eyes above the smoldering remains of the life I thought I would live, I saw beauty rise. All my failures were resolved on the cross and this garnered a new freedom. My identity wasn’t in question, after all. I was reacquainted with my true identity: bought, redeemed, daughter, and friend. All the help I needed was found in the God that loved me enough to never leave me.
Sometimes I still cry in church as I grapple with hard seasons and my true identity. Unpacking the gift of salvation is an ongoing process. When I feel alone, I picture the lengths Jesus went so I would be included. Allowing God to set the parameters for my identity and learning to trust Him were the greatest gifts in my hardest season. Discovering freedom in salvation, and from performance, is what made the struggle worth every moment.
We aren’t guaranteed a life without struggle, but we can receive help in our time of need. Lift up your eyes. Look beyond your current circumstances. The storm might not cease, but the peace of God can be yours in spite of the strong winds and choppy waters.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2, NIV