Nearly every time I speak at a conference or retreat, a participant urges me to write my story so more people will hear it. For various reasons, however, I’ve held off on fully sharing that story here on my blog. Part of it was timing and part of it was lack of time. Much of it was a struggle to approach challenging topics in an open and honest way, and some of it was timidity of getting a little too personal. Finally, a lot of it was (despite what those people at my talks have said) a little voice whispering in my ear, “No one really wants to hear your story, anyways.”
Last week, however, I complained to my publicist and friend Cathy Knipper of A Word in Progress, “I know I need to blog more often and be more active on social media. I just never know what to post about!”
Cathy (who, incidentally, was among the first people I notified of my husband’s heart attack. I didn’t even really know her at the time, but, since she had arranged a television appearance that day, I emailed her to let her know that the appearance would most definitely not be happening!) was quick to answer my dilemma.
“Stephanie,” she said, “you’ve got a story to share, and it’s something people need to hear – how to move forward past a traumatic, life-changing event.”
Wow. Yeah. I guess I have done that. And I guess I do have a thing or two (or 200) to share about it. I talk about it all the time in my speaking engagements, in fact, but my focus isn’t on how I did anything, but rather how God did everything.
That message, though – that God will give you strength, comfort, peace, and even joy when you need it most – comes with a caveat of sorts: He will take care of everything – but we humans need to first establish a relationship of trusting security in order to let Him.*
As you’ll read in the coming days, weeks, and even months, the story that many people are somewhat familiar with – the story of my husband’s heart attack and subsequent brain injury – was accompanied by seven incredibly precious words, words which began to circle my mind the moment I realized my best friend and husband was lifeless on our family room floor: “God will provide. God will be glorified.” Those words, I believe, came directly from the Holy Spirit, and they were accompanied by a serene calm that I immediately recognized as the “peace which surpasses all understanding.” (Phil 4:6) It was a peace born of trust, and I knew immediately that the words were Truth with a capital T. I didn’t know how, but I knew they would be fulfilled, that I had nothing to fear, my children had nothing to fear, my husband had nothing to fear. We were all in the hands of the loving Father, and there’s no better place to be.
Since then, the Father has proven those seven words true again and again. “God will provide,” they proclaimed, and He has provided. It may not be the sort of provision the world wants – our family doesn’t have the material goods other families have, we don’t take the nice vacations other families take, this momma doesn’t have the husbandly help other mommas have – but it’s the type of provision every soul needs. And, I hope and believe, He has been glorified. I get ahead of myself, though. If I say too much, I might use it as an excuse to bail on writing the full story. And one thing I know, one thing I trust, is that God is meant to be glorified through this story.
So stick with me for these coming months as I share my story. Our story. My husband’s, my kids’ (to the extent all are comfortable with), and, more importantly God’s. Again and again, as I watch it play out before me, my jaw drops in awe. “God, you are seriously ridiculously good to me,” I often tell Him, “but I’ll take it!”
My hope is that, in reading this story, your jaw will drop at His amazing goodness as well. I hope you’ll see how broken I’ve been, how broken I still am, and know that, “If Stephanie can have total trust in God, with all her faults and foibles, then I can too!” I’m a former atheist, a former semi-hedonist, a still-working-on-the-selfishness, -moodiness, and all sorts of other -nesses.
His love and mercy is available to us all, and I’m simply one very imperfect example of how He will come down to meet us where we’re at, to give us just what we need, in the hopes that we will turn to Him and let Him love on us so that we might love Him back.
That’s the secret to moving past a traumatic, life-changing event, but it’s not exactly easy. My story, then, is the experience of moving past – the God moments, the miracles, the total screw ups and the amazing successes – plus everything that led up to it – from forsaking God, to accepting Him, to full conversion, to deep relationship.
Now, after having put off sharing it here on the blog for nearly six years, I’m gonna tell it. Stay tuned. And, please, leave a comment about your own personal journey and hesitancies, as well as any questions you have that you’d like me to answer in upcoming posts!
*It is possible, through God’s extraordinary mercy, to receive these graces without having firmly established the relationship beforehand. I think it’s best to hedge our bets, though. Plus, there’s no more important relationship we could possibly build!