How many of us would be able to say our current circumstances in life are what we imagined they would be at this age or this season? In my office these last few days, I have sat with several women who have said some version of “this is not how I thought my life would turn out”. Women who are grieving (or not) the losses that have come from life NOT turning out the way they thought it would. Though the circumstances vary, I can relate to this theme in my own life.
At 25 years old, I got married thinking I was marrying for life. In fact, pretty much demanding that I be married for life (at least from God) because of all the instability in my own childhood. In my mind, this was how my story got redeemed. Never could I have imagined I would be a single mom and widow by the age of 30. Yet when Jim died, I found out who I was for the first time in my life. It’s what led me to get my Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and ultimately find my calling and passion in life. I then remarried and had another son. This past summer, I got a divorce from my second husband and my life broke apart again.
Now, let me be the first to tell you, I would have NEVER chosen this road for myself. I could have never predicted the twists and turns of my journey this far. If there is anything I have learned in all of this it is that life is not about a DESTINATION….it is about the JOURNEY. We, all in some way, view life like a bullseye that we are supposed to hit that deems us “worthy” or “successful”. For example, we are supposed to be happily married by 25. We need to have 2.5 kids by 32. Promotions at work or kids that make the honor roll. Then what happens is that we feel so much shame if we aren’t where we think we ‘should’ be by that certain age. There is no such bullseye- or destination. There is a path. I believe a path littered with mess, brokenness, and beauty. This path is a journey leading us to who we were made to be; one that involves both successes and failures.
But what if our ‘failures’ aren’t us missing the mark? But instead experiences to make us who we were created by God to be?
At 24 years old, I married Jim with such hope, naïveté, and dreams. Now at 45, if someone would have told me where I would be this evening, I would have walked out of the church. I would have told you and God, “no thanks, I certainly did not sign on for all of this”.
But here is the rub- I would not be ANY of the person I am today if not for every second of this journey of mine. Would I have picked this? HELL NO! Yet, I look back and see how every loss, every tear, every screw up, every moment of beauty, every failure, every start over has been necessary. So when my kids are hurting, I can be present with them. When a client is at the point of thinking death is better than life, or when someone wants to tell me their deepest secret that they haven’t told a soul- I am able to sit with them. Cry with them. Not fix them (God knows I can’t even fix myself). Not judge them. Not undermine their pain with a scripture or a trite word. I am able to sit in their pit of hell because I have been to my own pit too many times to count.
I don’t have answers- my own life feels like a wasteland at this point. But I have my journey…and it has changed me, gentled me, humbled me, made me wise and mature, and brought me to my knees. I would have never chosen it yet I can’t deny every step of this journey, even in my pits of hell, have made me the person I am today. If I am brutally honest, I would not trade a moment.
*The top picture was taken of my view while on a walk at Percy Warner Park.