The Evils We Cannot See #MyConfession #FightForLove #NeverGiveUpOnYourAlwaysAndForever

I feel like I’ve been extra quiet this past summer. Extra quiet because I’ve been spending more time than usual working hard on my books, spending time with friends facing tough situations, and focusing more time on my relationship with God.

I’ve had a few high moments but in reality I feel like I’ve been fighting harder for the ones I love and for myself than I ever have before. I’ve had a few moments this past year where I’ve found myself in heart wrenching sobs, my heart and soul being torn at by the claws of lies and deceit.

We look around and we can see evil, destruction, and darkness without much effort. Religious or not, I would venture to believe you would agree with me on that. There are bad things happening and people behaving badly in our hometowns, in our country, and in our world.

We find ourselves asking, “How did they get this way?” “How can people believe this is right and just?” “Why?” “What is going on?!” “Where’s God in all of this?”

First off, where does this evil come from? The possibilities are endless but I can tell you from my personal experience darkness, evil, demons, Satan—whatever you want to call it—it starts within us. It starts as a quiet whisper of lies, “You’re not good enough. You’ll never have the life you want. You’re worthless.” The list goes on and on. Whatever your insecurities are I can guarantee you, that’s exactly where that evil voice starts. We are so quick to rally to fight the evil that we can physically see that we forget, second-guess, or discount the evil that tries to rise from within. That’s the evil that wants us to give up, to be selfish, to hurt others in order to save ourselves. And it will attack us any avenue it can.

Sound a little far fetched? Too out there? Too charismatic? Maybe. Maybe not.

Last Fall as I was getting ready to pull all the final pieces together to publish How I Learned to Shine Again, I felt this inner turmoil rise up within me. At the time I thought it was the effects of reliving my grief and acknowledging my fears, but while those were certainly serious influences I can also see it was an attack. The sobbing in the bathtub with an ache in my chest stealing my joy, my breath, and my strength—was a personal attack to stop me. I was about to do something, finish something that would set me free from my grief, that would heal me, and would give meaning to my loss. I even said, “I don’t know how I’m going to finish this, I don’t want to, but I know I HAVE to.” I was about to give my pain a purpose and a purpose that was above and beyond the things of this world. I can see it now, in the eyes of readers dealing with loss—some of those wounds fresh and some those wound long healed over scars. God gave me an outlet and a grace to help others with my story. To show the world He can take horrific things and use them to good. We can’t bring those we’ve lost back to our world BUT we can find a place of comfort and healing. A place where the lost will always be missed but with a fondness instead of an agony. After all, this life is temporary but the next is unending.

This past March I was again hit with an attack that left me clutching the toilet vomiting from the pain of my sobbing from what I can best describe as the shredding of my insides, the slicing of my spirit. That instance was one where evil wanted me to give up hope on my future and my dream of a husband and family. Turns out that nastiness, opened my eyes to that lie and it forced me to seek the next call of my heart. (Which was more Jesus.)

That brings us to September. Another blessed birthday passed and I’m about to check off another piece of my spiritual journey, finding the church home where I can express and grow my faith and relationship with God. I find it of no coincidence that after setting some final dates during the day—on the brink of completing this next good thing, I found myself shattered once more sobbing in the bathtub holding my chest hoping the pressure of my hands would stop the pain. Then I couldn’t sleep. I found myself crawling out of bed and heading for the couch hoping I could sleep there because the empty space in the bed and my empty house was another wave of harsh agony that I was still here, in this place alone. No husband. No family. Just me. Alone.

Even though I know all of this is temporary (the line I tell my friends which they so graciously tell me in return, thank you for that!) I couldn’t stop the burning in my heart. When I say my heart hurts, I’m not kidding. It really, genuinely ached in my chest. Prayers are very powerful. I’ve always said that but I know the prayers of those who knew I was hurting have empowered me by the light of this day. As I was getting ready to head out today these words rose up within me and with it the anger at the evil within thinking it was going to stop me from following God’s purpose for my life. Even now I’m shaking my fist and slamming the keyboard with these words. It’d be pretty comical if I wasn’t so fired up at the moment. 😉

I was moved to share this today because how can we fight something we cannot see? How can we help each other to defeat our inner demons? We must acknowledge they exist and they’re nasty, dark, jerkwads. But we must STOP giving them space in our hearts. We don’t have to listen to their lies. We don’t have to take it!

Evil exists—around us and it tries to grow within us. Some people concede to it and reside in its misery, some people are overcome with it and spread its nastiness among us, but there are some people–some of us who are warriors. We are fighters. We love beyond our hurt. We show kindness beyond the hate. We are the ones who rise again and again no matter how many times or how many ways we are knocked down. We are not perfect but that doesn’t matter. What truly matters is having a genuine heart that wants to fight for the truth. The REAL truth—love is real. Love never fails. Love never dies. Love fights for the truth. Love heals. In all these things and many more, love defeats evil.

Evil exists but so does Good. God is the goodness in this world. God is love. When we ask He will equip us, He teaches us how to fight darkness with light. He created us to be conquerors not the conquered. But the choice remains with you—will you believe? Will you arm yourself with love for yourself and those around you? Will you stand up against evil? I am and I will continue to as long as I’m breathing. I’m using the skills God equipped me with—my words and by the way I live my life. Will you grab your talents and join me in this fight for good?

And as always, I share my heart because I want you to know if you’ve felt these nasty attacks like I have you’re not alone. We are not in this alone no matter what those nasty voices say.

Follow your call through every bump and never give up on your always and forever.

Michelle <3

 

Birthdays, Healing, Patience, & Perspective #Confessions

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and considering today would be Chris’s 33rd birthday it seemed like it was about time I did. This October marks four years since Chris’s passing. Life has changed and continues to do so in incredible ways with each year.

This morning as I was headed towards my favorite coffee shop after several days of being physically ill and incredibly exhausted (which thankfully isn’t the norm for me) I was thinking about Chris and how much my world has changed since he died. An overwhelming sense of joy enveloped me as I thought about Chris. The man I was married to would’ve never believed all the ways and all the people his life and death have touched, not only family and friends he knew but people he’d never met and with the publication of Shine his legacy is touching the lives readers all over the place. Also writing and publishing Shine last fall truly released me from a lot of my emotional bindings and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

I’m truly blessed that on this day I can fully acknowledge the peace, acceptance, and healing that has taken place since he started celebrating his birthday in heaven. This year I’ve had sorrows and I’ve had disappointments AND I’ve had great magnificent blessings. This is the normal ebb and flow of life.

I found myself sitting in the cemetery in tears lamenting, praying, and crying for the missing parts of my heart (my family.) I’ve sat at home withdrawn and searching for answers with where to go and what to do with my life next only to be randomly answered by the television. The first time it was super weird but then I got used to it. Ask and you shall receive. LOL!

I’ve sat in my special place working away on my writing only to uncover new calls on my life. I’ve sat on the other end of phone calls laughing, crying, and listening in awe as new relationships and chapters were being written right before my eyes.

At almost four years into this new life of mine, a life without Chris, finding Michelle, reconnecting with Jesus, and opening package after package of clues guiding me on the journey to, through, and along my life’s purpose I can’t help but be thankful.

But the greatest gift is the gift of love so many of you continue to give me, in your own ways, at your own time. Some of you think I’m a patient person, CONFESSION I’m not. I’m not as patient as I look to be on the outside. I want so desperately to be done waiting for my own family and instead be living, loving, and growing with them. I want so badly for us to be together under the same roof. I found an email I’d written prior to Chris’s passing that said how much I wanted my family even back then. I’ve been waiting on that dream for longer than I’d recently thought.

I long for the day I can “tell” Chris, “Look at this! Look I have it! I finally have it. My family–an incredible husband and amazing children!” In my ear every time I want to give up and throw in the towel on this dream I hear Chris say, “Don’t give up. Never give up on that. Don’t settle. Wait, it’s coming.” I’ve been blessed time and time again to hear these words from unsuspecting sources in unexpected ways from friends, from strangers, from clergy, and from the TV. Of course you can probably connect that this is where Never Give up on Your Always & Forever has come from.

In the meantime, I’ve been working towards that dream by forcing myself to grow and become the best woman I can possibly be. Which should be no shock considering my over achiever disease. 😉 I’ve been sent down a new path spiritually and words cannot describe how beautiful those steps have been. All the connections, all the pieces of God working in my life is overwhelming and inspiring. (This will be showcased in a book at some point. It’s too astounding not to share.) Some days it doesn’t look like it will ever happen and some days it doesn’t feel like it’s even possible but I’m moving towards my family.

In these four years, I’ve discovered my dreams of teaching and writing were well placed and I get to live them and work on them every day now. No more desk job for this girl! My work places involve classrooms and coffee shops. Just typing this gives me a whole new perspective on the life I’m blessed to be living. This might also be influenced by the delightful cup of coffee I’m sipping on with its heart shaped foam design. (It tastes as delightful as it looks.)

Today it is a blessing to think of my late husband with peace and joy in my heart and renewed hope for my future. That comes from many places but especially in knowing he is living on in a place free from pain and overflowing with love. I can’t tell you how I know this but I do. It is something that is so deeply rooted within me that it cannot be ignored.

If you’re hurting today, if you’re missing Chris or someone else near and dear to your heart I pray you find this place of peace and comfort in your own heart. Cry when you must, laugh when you can, and remember healing is a journey. Time only heals if we’re tending to our wounds. We are not alone in this life. We are all connected by a beautiful thread of love. Remember we must not be afraid to ask for help when we need it, provide help at every opportunity, and never give up on our always and forever. Love never dies. Healing happens. I thank God for His miracles in my life, and if you’re reading this that includes you. You are a miracle. Never doubt that. Thank YOU so very much being MY miracle.

Love, Hugs, and Sunshine,

Michelle <3

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