"About seven years ago, a season of loss started in my life. It started with an injury to my back costing me my career as a firefighter. Next, two of my grandparents passed away. Then, my brother who was a Marine Cobra Pilot was KIA in Afghanistan. Another grandparent passed only months after that. The icing on the cake was a divorce that I did not foresee or want after only a year and a half of marriage. Now, my story isn’t the bleakest or worse one out there. I still had a lot to be thankful for, but it was a really rough time and my faith was definitely tested.
By the time I was in the midst of my divorce I was at my breaking point. It was all I could do to muster up the energy and strength to take my next breath. It wasn’t much time between all of these traumatic events that happened in about a five year span, and honestly out of everything going through divorce was the hardest. The enemy surely saved the worst for last. I felt like I could not come up for air or process and heal at all from one thing before the next happened. I found myself screaming at my creator saying, “Ok God, what the heck is going on here!! Can you seriously take any more from me?” I was emotionally destroyed by that point and angry at God. I just couldn’t understand why it seemed the dreams I held on to and the people I loved dearly we're being stripped from my life in the most painful ways. I had lost weight because my stomach was in knots and I could hardly eat. I was just barely keeping together at work, I kept to myself and when I was around others I was emotionally and mentally absent hard as I tried to engage and be normal. I was in a depressed state and it was awful. I would come home from work and barely pull into my garage before the tears that I successfully held back all day started to flood my eyes. I would spend hours on the floor crying out to God and wake up stuck to the carpet from tears and snot. I know, it’s not a pretty picture, but I am being totally transparent and painting this for a reason.
One day while I was praying God spoke to my heart. He asked me a question that resonated loudly in my damaged soul. I felt Him ask, “Amanda, do you trust me?” Of course I immediately thought, “Well God of course I trust you but…” I was stopped in the middle of my thought and He asked again, “Do you trust me?” Then I got it. If I really trusted the Lord there was no “but” involved. I then realized I hadn’t really been trusting Him. I surely hadn’t been living like I trusted Him either. I prayed that night for God to help me trust Him and to show me what I needed to change in me for that to happen. That is when everything began to turn around. Now, the circumstances didn’t change, but I did. When I laid my heart before the Lord and asked Him how I could grow, what He wanted me to learn, where I needed more faith and trust I began to heal. God could work with that. A redemption process began to happen in my heart, soul, mind, and subsequently my entire life. As my heart became humbled before God to change the one thing I had control over (which was only myself) I began to focus on His promises for my life, where I fell short, and what His will was. I learned that any plans I had made before I never consulted Him on. I also realized that God wasn’t taking things from me. He is for me and only has good plans for me. Living in a fallen world there is sin and the consequence of sin. We all pass away at some point and the timing is never a surprise for God. Sometimes careers and relationships do not work out for reasons that may never make sense to our human minds….but we have to trust that His plans are greater.
Skipping ahead to the reason I write this…In the last two years I have been rebuilt. I have learned to be sourced in God alone. I have finally put Him first above all else in my life and have learned to hold on loosely to all that is not Him. I am not perfect. I do still fail, but I now look for the lesson in my failure. Things still go wrong and circumstances have been hard at times, but I know that the sovereignty of God doesn’t change just because things are difficult for a moment. Out of all of this, good prevails: my mom started a ministry in my brother’s honor called “41319” that has already brought many souls to Christ, donated many funds to wounded warriors, and I am excited for where it will go. The numbers stand for two verses: Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me) and Joshua 1:9 (Be bold and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go). They are the two verses my family has stood on and we would always text those numbers to each other when times were tough knowing the encouragement that was meant and the truth from which it came.
I now have a wonderful career where I can help and encourage people. Also, I just married my absolute best friend and partner. The Lord didn’t just restore what was stolen, He did me one better. I now have someone in my life who shares my heart for Him. We serve alongside each other and are in each other’s corner in prayer and encouragement. We love each other not for what we get out of the relationship, but for a true appreciation of God’s design in each other. My purpose has only increased since the Lord brought me to this man. And, the funny thing is, he has also gone through this season of loss and learned what I have learned. We both get it. It is not about us, it is about Him. God truly does work all for our good. We just have to trust Him. I am so thankful that I have someone in my life that can walk that faith journey with me. It is worth more than gold or diamonds or rubies.
If you are going through a season of loss be encouraged. God is for you. He has only good plans for you. This season of pain is just that, a season, and it will not last forever. The question is, “Do you trust Him enough to press on and see what He has for you on the other side of your adversity and will you learn what He is laying before you so that you can be refined in the fire?” I pray you allow Him to lift you up and keep going. You can do it with His help. It is totally worth the fight to continue. God is good all the time, and all the time God is soooo good! Choose Him, then just wait and see."
It is amazing the wonderful lessons learned over time as we walk with the Lord. The last year and a half have been yet another chapter of this beautiful journey. God was so faithful during that season of loss to refine and grow broken areas of myself that He knew only the loss could expose. Insecurity and identity were the main two as I can see in hindsight that He dealt with in me during that time. When I had nothing left it felt, what made me ok? It used to be people and situations that made me feel secure. Now it is just Him. He is enough. I needed to get there to be ready to receive the next lesson.
Marriage and parenthood have also addressed areas of brokenness I still needed healing in as well. God has challenged my trust in Him through my marriage. It is hard to trust a fallible person. In the first year I often feared my husband would make a mistake and I/we would suffer because of it. I wanted to try to help control the outcome in my own strength and try to avoid being hurt. Now I realize that trusting my imperfect husband is really ultimately trusting God. Do I believe that HE has me covered even if “he” messes up? We have also been challenged in our faith as a couple- how do we know what we believe is true? We have embarked on a journey of seeking what God’s absolute truth is rather than any manmade version of it. Then there are the kids. So often they mirror for me the way I act toward God. Either I don’t trust He has my best interest at heart, that He is good, or that He knows more than I do. Being a parent really exposes your shortcomings and holds you accountable.
I feel that the season of loss and the healing I experienced through that adversity prepared me for this season of blessing I am in now and the challenges that it also poses as all seasons of life do. In every season, we can grow and learn if we are only open to the fact that we may have been or are wrong. IF we allow our Heavenly Father to heal our hearts and renew our minds. If we are willing to lay down self and ask the Lord what His will is. If we can choose to look at the big picture rather than being short-sighted and narrow-minded. If we can selflessly and humbly embrace the season we are in and the rich lessons our Creator has for us without trying to manipulate a certain outcome in our own strength. If we can totally die to self…
I am so thankful for everything in my life that so far I have gone through. The Lord has shaped me through both the good and the bad and He is far from finished with me. He is a good God and I willingly press on in this journey to follow Him and understand what His plans are for me as I continue to further understand who He is.