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

 

Why I Love Valentine’s Day Even Though I’m Single ;) #MyConfessions

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love LOVE. <3 There is no shortage of hearts, the color red, or love in marquee lights in my home. I’ve always had a thing for the L-word. Hence the romance writing but the most beautiful thing about love is that it is more than hearts and flowers or lovey-dovey hugs and kisses. (Not that those things aren’t awesome cause they are.) Love is opening the door for someone. Love is mowing the lawn. Love is doing or saying something to help someone else. Love is being an encourager and sometimes it is being the person who listens and gives a shoulder to cry on. Love is an endless list of actions.

V-Day isn’t about the flowers, the chocolates, the jewelry, or all of those ways the world has commercialized love. You can’t buy love. You can buy lust but true love is a rare thing that cannot be purchased. It is found, fostered, and grown. It is something we spend so much of our time seeking that we often miss the fact it’s on our doorstep.

I’m learning that we need love from different sources—from our parents, our family, our friends (younger, older, and our own age), our significant others, and ourselves. I wasn’t able to fully love myself until I discovered the love that resides inside me through my faith, which has carried me through some seriously awful days and some amazing days, too. I’m incredibly thankful my heart was opened to that love.

Love has taught me that to live a fulfilled, bold life of purpose that I need the love and support of YOU. We are all connected. We need fellowship. We need encouragement. And no matter how independent we think we are, we do our best work when we work together. We need each other.

So like Thanksgiving is that holiday that reminds us to be thankful for at least one day (even if we should be filled with gratitude every day) Valentine’s Day is a holiday to remind us to love. And while all those gifts you buy at the store are wonderful and sweet, remember it’s of no monetary sacrifice to give the greatest gift of all—your love. The world needs more love and I’ll preach that until my dying day or until we live in a kind, peaceful, loving world, whichever comes first.

I know this day can be a difficult day for some. Believe me, I haven’t forgotten those first gut wrenching V-Days after losing Chris. They sucked. And if I hadn’t found a way to love myself or pour my heart into those around me and shift my perspective on this day, then I’d still be in that rough spot.

If this day is a tough one for you here’s a few things that helped me through:

Love never dies. It only changes forms.

Hearts take time to mend. Hearts take time to heal. Be patient with yourself and others.

You are loved. Repeat this until you believe it. Sometimes our heads can be stubborn.

And of course, never give up on your always and forever. Love covers a multitude of sins and hurts. Love heals the soul. I know this because I’m living proof.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Thank you for all the love you pour into my life! I wouldn’t be me without YOU!

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #NeverGiveUpOnYourAlwaysAndForever #YouGetWhatYouGive #GiveLove #FindYourShine