Not so long ago (and a lifetime ago) after walking away from my 25-year marriage, at the age of 51, I was in a dark, disillusioned, and isolated place – emotionally depleted and thoroughly bankrupt, spiritually. I was bitter and confused and had become an empty shell of the vibrant, joyful person I used to be. It not only ended my marriage, but affected my outlook on life, my parenting, my effectiveness in the classroom, and many relationships…. most of all, my life-long relationship with Jesus.
When I was at my lowest point and needing Jesus most, I turned my back on my relationship with Him. It wasn’t that I wanted to, so much as I couldn’t stay where I was. I’d become bitter and angry, and as much as I still believed He and the faith I had walked for most of my life was Truth -and I truly still did believe that- I was no longer able to embrace them. It was a crisis of faith and I foolishly chose to believe the lies of my rebellious heart, blame God for my circumstances, and refuse to trust Him anymore.
I very willfully hardened my heart and numbed my feelings and closed my mind.
The first few years following my divorce were reckless and rebellious years. I made choices and decisions based solely on my base needs and desires. I didn’t care if they were “right” in the eyes of my family, the church (which I’d walked away from, as well) or God. I lived only for the moment – to hell with the consequences. I was being self-destructive and I knew it and, quite frankly, I didn’t care.
It wasn’t until several years later – after the death of my sweet sister, Becky, who died about six months after discovering she had pancreatic cancer, and then just three and a half weeks later the sudden, unexpected death of my fiancé, I hit rock bottom. My world went dark, pitch black – void of hope or any vision of a future.
But here’s the thing – when you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go, but UP↑.
The next three months of that time of profound loss in my life are still a blur to me. I remember very little of it. I went through the motions of my daily life in a state of shock and disbelief. It was during that time and through my utter brokenness, however, I believe God was able to penetrate the fortress I’d built around my heart. I began to feel Him drawing me closer and I began to consider how I might find my way back to a vital relationship with Him – a thought that both comforted and frightened me at the same time. The softening of my rock-hard heart was painful and I was still uncomfortable with organized religion and the “expectations of man”. I found myself struggling and resisting progress. It was a slow journey; often two steps forward, one step back – two steps forward, three steps back – two steps forward, etc.
Additionally, my crisis of faith caused a faith shift, of sorts. I began to face my questions and criticisms regarding the church and found I’d put too much faith in the church and its man-made rules and expectations, allowing it to skew my view of Jesus and His love and His mercy and His grace. I painstakingly sorted through the man-made boundaries of my past faith and discovered authenticity in my love for Jesus, my faith in Him, and my love for and acceptance of others. I emerged a new and markedly different person.
Dear reader, let me be completely honest with you right here and right now. The thing is… I’m still a mess. I’m still blundering my way through life and figuring things out and rediscovering His grace and mercy on a daily basis. Today, I’m a 58-year-old woman who is happily remarried but still wildly flawed and a gloriously beautiful mess. I’ve learned to embrace my story and myself – flaws and all. (Yes, I’ve learned to not just tolerate, but love even the worst in me.) And I am daily having to re-learn trust, daily having to remind myself that Jesus sees me and goes before me into each day, making a way. And that’s enough for me.
If you have a midlife story you would like to share, please email Pamela at Pamela@gracecounselingservice.com. With your permission, we may use all or part of your story in a future blog. All names will be changed to protect privacy.