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

 

It’s Been a While Since I’ve Had One of These Moments #GriefConfessions #LoveHugsAndSunshine

There are some things that make absolutely no sense at all. How I can miss Chris and be happy in my current life? How can I be sad and at the same time full of joy? It is possible. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t felt it myself but I’m telling you it’s legit.

There are so many new happy things happening in my life—in my professional world, in my spiritual journey, and even in my personal life (although those things are not as definitive and easy to explain.)

I went to the cemetery this week. If you’ve read Shine then you know the cemetery has not always been a good place for me. As with my growth, I do see it as a different place than I once did. I don’t necessarily believe Chris “lives” there but if I want to make sure he hears what I have to say I go there.

It was a perfect summer day–sunshine, low humidity, and in the seventies. Those were the kind of days Chris loved. “Perfect riding weather,” he’d say. I found myself in front of his headstone, my butt parked on the ground. I always giggle to myself how the grass on his grave doesn’t grow like the rest. He wouldn’t want to inconvenience people by needing to mow too often.

And so I started telling him about all the great things happening and then the happy tears quickly turned into sad ones. When I start to realize how happy I am in my “new life” it makes me sad because Chris doesn’t have a new life—at least not on this plane of existence. It’s not that I don’t believe Chris has a new life of his own because I do. And I truly believe he is in a place of peace and is free from the strife of this world. But when I start moving forward it’s a reality check. His death really happened. The good things in life are as equally real as the bad things.

As the tears were streaming down my face behind my sunglasses I said, “Chris, I can’t wait until the day I can come here and tell you I’ve got my family.” Those words made me wonder if when that joyful day comes if the sadness will lose its volume. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But I realized how badly I want that not only for me, but for us.

I went on rambling about missing his friendship, mentioned a few grievances, and made a few other requests. I looked up from my seat on the ground to the view of the hill with three crosses and a large stone bible a few steps away. I could almost hear him chiding me that it was time to leave.

I stood up and walked towards the large granite bible with a little bird beckoning me over. There’s always a bird. Always a bird. LOL! Written on it was the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want…” When I hit the line that says, “he restoreth my soul” the confirmation hit me of Chris’s peace in his new life. I needed that to help me combat the guilt that was starting to rise up.

Then the more I read the more I realized inside those words were messages for me about my situations, my fears, and my concerns. I climbed into the truck and had one last bout of tears before gathering myself to return my world.

What is this grief confession post about? A lot of things but most importantly it’s a reminder that we’re allowed to feel more than one thing at a time, but it can be overwhelming. Sometimes the things we think make sense are false truths we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe. I don’t want to go back in time, I want to be here in this moment. And being in this moment means I can miss the friendship of my late husband and carry a longing desire for the friendship of my next spouse. I can miss Chris and be happy that he’s at peace, all in the same moment. And as weird as it may sound I can be anxious and longing for the day I come to the cemetery and say, “My family found me, Chris. My family found me!”

This Monday would be our anniversary. I wasn’t even consciously thinking about that while at the cemetery. I would’ve never been able to imagine the place I’m at today, nor the woman I’ve become. I would’ve never expected how short our marriage would be nor how much I learned from our years together.

I’m so grateful for every heartache and every victory.

My eyes have been opened as to how my life is not my own. How beautiful it is to recognize my value and my purpose, and that is to share my life with you through my words, my day to day, and in every way I live my life. The miracles that God has worked in my life and continues to work on a daily basis—they are as much for me as they are for you. I hope your eyes are opened to the plans and ways He’s working in your life as well. He loves you, too. Never forget we are all connected. We are all loved.

It’s part of my personal growth to become more vulnerable. Boy is that difficult, especially for the “girl who has it all together.” Looks can be deceiving, dear friends. I don’t have it all together not even close but I’m constantly seeking the guidance and answers so that I can grow. When I’m knocking on heaven’s door I want to know I lived a life of purpose. I lived a life of love.

And loving people means lots of messes and nothing will ever be “all together” but that’s not an excuse to withhold your heart.

Live fully. Love boldy.

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #NeverGiveUpOnYourAlwaysAndForever