How I Found My Happily Ever After
Last week my husband and I took a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida. We love Sanibel and all of its beauty. The minute we begin to cross the 3-mile causeway from Fort Myers, I am in my happy place. I love the smell of the salt air, seeing all the boats on the beautiful blue water and watching the kite boarders skim across the bay. Once I’m on the island, my body instantly begins to relax, and even my breathing slows down. There is something special that draws me to this place, over and over again. One of the reasons I love it so much is because my husband and I were married on the island, and it was a perfect day.
This year we are celebrating our fifth anniversary. We are the result of second chances. Life doesn’t always work out the way we planned, but the process of divorce and getting remarried ten years later has greatly increased my empathy, love, and compassion for others who find themselves in the same situation.
Before I went through a divorce myself, I can honestly say I was judgmental toward many things people did. I was living in a bubble of self-righteousness and poking at the speck in my neighbor’s eye while ignoring the plank in my own. Looking back, I can see where the enemy wanted me to believe I had the right to judge people because they were judging me, but I was dead wrong. As I was going through this process, I learned a valuable lesson. For the first time, I understood the deep need for grace and forgiveness around this issue because I had to use it for myself.
I remember reading this scripture in The Message, and it couldn’t be more clear about how I was sinning. I also remember the conviction which came along with these scriptures:
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5 – MSG)
Our hurt can either drive us away from God or back toward Him. I know both of these roads. After we crash at the end of our own road, there’s nothing sweeter than knowing God is walking with us on the way home. Conviction is a beautiful thing. It steers our hearts toward the cross. It is by no means comfortable but is truly a gift which guides us back to God if we allow it.
I’ve come to a conclusion. I always thought God liked me, but I didn’t believe He loved me. I could tell people how much God loved them and I could believe it for them, but not for myself. There were things which happened in my childhood and teenage years which led me to believe that I wasn’t as valuable or loved by God as everyone else. After my divorce, I believed I was even less loved or valuable.
We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. I’m sure we all have things we wish we could change or go back and do over. The fact is, sometimes you can’t, and you just have to move forward. When you take what you have learned through a very painful process and apply the healing balm of God’s Word to your life, it changes you.
I have always studied God’s Word, memorized scripture and even attended seminary, but it wasn’t until my life began spinning out of control that I would begin to feast on every scripture like it was my last meal. The things I once thought about God were revealed to be untrue, and His truth sparked a hunger and desire to go deeper and seek out more of His truth. I surrounded myself with people who were just as hungry for God as I was and I bathed myself in His love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, hope and the gift of restoration. When I changed what I was focusing on in my head, my heart changed.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Philippians 4:8-9 MSG)
I stopped looking at myself like there was something wrong with me and began making a mental list of what God loved about me. I have always prayed, but my prayer life became more powerful because of what God was doing in my heart. For the first time in a long time, I prayed believing for myself as much as I did for others.
People saw the change and even commented that I somehow looked lighter. I was lighter because I had the light of Christ in my soul and I wanted it to shine from within for all to see. God removed my mask, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to be the “real” me in all of my dysfunction. I am a work in progress, as we all are. We will not be rid of our worldly imperfections until Christ returns. But, I’m glad we aren’t stuck with them for eternity.
God will take the ugliest things in our lives and use them for His glory. It doesn’t matter if it was a divorce, addiction, abortion, police record, or whatever ugly thing you have done or believe about yourself. God will allow you to trade your ashes for beauty.
Today, I can say I know who I am and who God has created me to be. It is a process, but I’m no longer a captive, but only captivated by God’s love for me. My prayer is you too will be captivated by His love.
My precious ones, don’t let the enemy rob you of one more second with his lies, judgments, and untruths. God isn't only the God of second chances, but of many chances. Click To TweetGod isn’t only the God of second chances, but of many chances. It is never too late to turn around on the road you are traveling and head home to Him. Believe me, I’ve been in your place, and I know you may take some wrong turns going back, but God will lead you home.
Many times it is because of working through the pain we are able to embrace our second chance and find our Happily Ever After!