me, the testimony
I began this post on August 30th...good things come to those who wait.
How the hell does a broken heart get back together when it's torn apart?
This is how...
(this is a long but excellent read, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and kick back while you enjoy)
This post is going to be a bit like a testimony. It may look this way or that way throughout but it is a statement about me. The good the bad...and the path to the other side of worldly burdens and a life not lived.
I was brought up Catholic and my grandmother read to me from the Bible. I had a fabulous and loving First Grade teacher that exuded the presence of God to us daily. I was smitten with the idea that Jesus loved me. Somewhere in the second to third grade area, I felt a distance between God and myself, and that lasted for many years.
My grandmother, who was a huge source of God's love for me, passed away early in my life, and I sent a message to myself that I was alone. She had been my most cherished family. Loving, tough, and talented. I never questioned her love for me. And she had helped me know God as I grew up.
Even though I had felt something shift and I was living in a place of emptiness and fear, all along the way He never gave up sending messengers to help me.
One of the Sisters of Mercy at the school I attended was a real inspiration to me. Sister Carole was an excellent teacher, a dear friend, a wonderful example of Christ living in you, a woman that I love dearly. I remember the books she has written for children. Workbook type creative ways to learn God's word. I kept in touch over the years but it has been a while. I looked her up recently here on the internet and she doing God's work through a mission that does work in Uganda. Of course she does. I'm thankful for knowing her and she continues to inspire.
Mission of Mercy in Uganda
Another is a dear friend of mine Jessica. She came into my life just as I was torn apart more then I could take. I lost my fiancé to a tragic accident, I had chosen to try and bury the pain instead of grieve, and I was choosing to behave like a person who could not hold together a life for myself. She came into my life like a soft beacon of light to remind me what loving God was about. Never pushy never judgmental, only loving and willing to hold a space for me to be me and feel safe. That was God loving me through her. We are still very close, we talk about God together and we lift each other up. She is an amazing mother of three, a devoted wife, and is now working with disabled individuals who are making their way back into the world.
I received an email from my Aunt (who took me to the Jesus bookstore when I was young for my birthday!) one day here a couple years back that said to me, "Michele you had it right all those years ago with Jesus." She and I have had many a conversation about what God can do with two hands and two feet here on this earth.
Her daughter Sarah and I speak regularly about faith and what God can do in your life. Sarah is a wonderful example of a faithful woman standing firm in her conviction to love the Lord first and let Him guide her choices with her family and living. She has offered her assistance on many occasions to help me and is a wise young woman. We often talk about God and being real.
When I think about all of faith filled friends I am so thankful. All along the way were conversations and signs that He was still in my life.
Like the poem Footprints. That has always been a favorite of mine. I bought one of those laminated picture wallet cards with one version of this poem written on it. It sits in my bathroom against the mirror with just the photo of the footprints in the sand. Reminding me to remember!
We are humans. We live as only humans know how. Some this way, some that, but really very similar in many many ways. The thing that brings us the closest is God in our hearts. It is there in all of us, weaving us together. Our minds can only wrap around faith to a certain point. The rest is trusting God. And we fumble and leap, we cry and laugh, we win and we lose then ultimately we either give up control, and allow God to work through us with love, or we do not truly live.
I have been hit with many difficult situations, as we all are no doubt, that could have shaken me off my feet for good if it were not for the Lord still working in my life and in my heart. I could have chosen a way that was filled with avoidance, indulgences, and little morality. For years I did. Not a one of any of those things ever made me feel better. Temporarily possibly, but everything ended up leaving more of a scar of shame and guilt than pleasure. God filled that space. I can actually physically feel it now. After fighting the good fight even and living healthy and doing everything “right” I was still not feeling any less tormented.
I came to the realization that I had been raped and molested. I wrote a song about not being able to open your heart fully after experiencing that when I was 18. When I was 19, I lost my fiancé.
I will never forget how much my life changed that day so instantly. I became an even more sad, depressed and very guarded person. I didn't care as much about anything. I felt alone and not connected to anyone, no real ambition to follow through with goals or dreams. I was extremely sensitive and did not handle the difficulties all that well. My body was in a lot of pain. I was plagued with headaches and I was always sore and feeling much older than I am. It began in my teens and was so unbearable by the time I was 28 that I was having trouble with everything else.
I found out much later in life this was due to a combination of birth defect in my hips and an injury to my neck due to a fall, that has left me in daily pain for the last twenty some years. I am blessed to live in a location where there are a lot of alternative medical resources. I was able to work on the pain to a much more livable level. Over the years it has been so bad that I pace rather than sleep and spend days tense and agitated because my body aches too much to concentrate on other things. Thanks to Rolfing, Cranio-sacral, Hoshindo, Cranio Osteopathy, Acupuncture, and my own knowledge of healing modalities, I have managed to find a place that almost feels good!
I was able to find job success, make friends, and gain a sense of stability but I was still tormented inside. Medications, therapy merely prodding at the problem within. Family dysfunction and added distance. I worked diligently on myself and yet was still in darkness. A darkness that I was basking in rather than letting God shine His light into.
I wanted to be a mother all my life I think. Looking for my partner when I was only a child. Rushing through things. Missing so much. And in my twenties I got pregnant while taking several different psychiatric medications. I found out because I was very sick one night while out drinking and singing karaoke. I passed out on the bathroom floor. When the doctor told me, I was in shock and immediately called my psychiatrist to see what the ramifications would be to proceed. Not good at all.
I went ahead and decided to terminate the pregnancy not wishing to inflict illness on a child. Wow oh boy, that was the single hardest thing I have gone through. I thought I was fine with my decision even though it was not what I wanted. But when it came to the very moment after it was done, I wept as I have never cried before.
What sacrifice was this? Why did I have to make this choice when I wanted children so whole heartedly?
As I picked up the pieces and kept going, I found better working situations, more stability, and stopped taking medication. I continued diligently with my physical therapy and emotional health. Still no spark, no zest for life, no confidence in myself, no drive.
Then I got a job at a preschool at Zia United Methodist Church. I was an after school teacher for a motley crew of youngsters. I worked with various different people who are still part of my life even though the preschool closed. The kids were of various backgrounds and were all sensitive and special. They were mostly from Children Youth and Family Services and broken homes. Some were not potty trained and all a handful. And I love each one of them! My most beloved job ever.
I am blessed to still be in contact with one family through church and the testimony of Christ’s work in their family is beautiful.
I was asked while working one afternoon to join choir, as I had mentioned my joy in singing. I agreed and began attending rehearsals and Sunday service to sing. I LOVE singing about the Lord, to the Lord, for the Lord!
I am not afraid to sing out and shine when I am at church. It's great.
Ms. Bethany Carpenter is our pastor and she is one heck of a great lady. She has kept together, with every ounce of her being, a very lovely community of service minded and Christ loving folks. One of my dearest friends is the newly appointed choir director, amongst other things, and she gets us all pretty joyful about singing without fear. Anne and Jessica feel like soul sisters to me, God coming to my aide again, as I have moved a distance from my home and have had to find my family again.
I started reading from the Bible my grandmother read to us from. I began searching again for all the places God was in my life. I see it everyday in all kinds of ways. A smile from a child, a song, a moment of beauty, the sunset, all of it, a blessing, all of it. And over the past few years it has grown full blast to something quite amazing.
Life progressed and then I met the man I thought I would marry.
Instead we had a tumultuous relationship, a child and then our relationship ended.
I have to sit back and digest that, still.
The past few years while I was growing closer to God, my life was a stormy passionate chaos.
Ironic? I think not.
What did come out of all of that was the greatest blessing I have ever received. My daughter was God's gift of grace, of faith, and of challenge. I am here to serve God as her mother and do the best by her and I enjoy that with every ounce of my being. It was not until this year that I truly felt this peace and the greatest catalyst for me to heal myself was becoming a parent. Thankfully I asked with as much conviction as I could muster for God to kept my personal pain and my daughter separate. Thank you for that blessing Lord. And thank you for guiding me as I learn everyday how to be a better mother and person! What a noble quest!
I have started taking medications again to help me slow down and pay more attention to my life. To help filter my thoughts, which are rapid and constant, more evenly. It works. I am proud that I was willing to seek this help even though I did not really think it was what I wanted for my life.
I have a beauty and a grace about me now that I had lost for many years. It is so amazing to feel so happy when all I had tried to build had fallen apart.
Life is utterly fantastic. Not much has changed except for the fact that I have fully accepted God into my life and allowed Him to work inside of me. Helping me shine when I cannot even stand up anymore. Wow.
And to top it off all the healing resources I need find me and the more I let them in and let them work, the stronger I feel God’s presence in me, and the happier I am. And it sticks.
And here I am with all the love in my heart for my relationship situation to be filled with God's love and have it be however it will be, as long as it is healthy and good for our daughter.
I am feeling that life is better than ever!
The best it has ever been perhaps. I have matured, I have accomplished much, and I am priming myself for some amazing things to come.
I am raising an amazing little being from God, I teach Sunday School to 2-4 year olds, I paint, I dance, I sing karaoke like I was born with a mic in my hand, I blog, I cook really tasty and healthy food, I keep a tidy and stimulating home for my little princess, I bake yummy treats, I am engaging in awareness and mindfulness, reaching out, stepping out, living each moment, and honoring my way, which is God’s way.
I find it so much easier NOT to mess up when I follow His guidance.
Where I once had anxiety, fear and constant sorrow...God has answered my pleas and filled those spaces instead with confidence, courage and a joyous peace that comes from knowing I am never alone, God is there. When I feel blah or down or sad, I remember that it will pass and God is still holding me up. "When you feel it you know".
I am still the same Michele, only I shine the gifts I have and I have harnessed the less desirable traits into more positive and useful energy in my life. They still exist and need to be worked on and through. But they do not run my life. I always wanted someone to lift me up and make it better. All my life I was waiting for...ME! So silly, right? I was there all the time, hiding...and now I speak up, I shine.
I do that with God's guidance.
You can't really choose wrong with a heart filled with the Lord. Your intuition will then lead you to make the best choices.
So, I believe that giving your heart and your worries over to the Lord is a good thing. That is the easier part. It is then keeping your heart always on the way He has laid out that is a bit more challenging.
But hey, who doesn't like a good challenge?
I am truly sorry from the bottom of my heart that I ever once hurt anyone's feelings, said something abruptly unthoughtful, if I ever did anything that hurt anyone. I am sorry. I am sorry I was careless with myself, my morals, my life for anyone other than God. I live my life for myself. But my humility and the realization that I cannot do it on my own without His love makes me fall to my knees and ask you all, myself, and God to forgive me. This too is why I praise Him. The blessing of knowing that you are no more valuable than anyone else but so valuable as everyone else. It's hard to be humble, it's tough making the right choices. When you hear God and trust Him, follow what He has for you; you cannot go wrong. It is ultimately what you want if your heart is set to goodness. Not good things happen, you will make mistakes, potentially tragic accidents or unexpected circumstances can seem to bring you to pieces, but that does not mean give up and discard God as meaningless. That is the time to dig in and hold on.
I recall my Great Aunt’s face when she told me that she was done living and was happily ready to meet the Lord. She was sick at the time and tired of being poked with needles and being away from her home. She was a faithful woman. Never married after her husband passed away even though she was young. She got a notable job at Rutgers University and did everything she could to help anyone she could. She liked things her own way which was difficult to handle at times, but at the end of her time we all were there. We loved her and she us, and she met the Lord with open arms, her life well lived.
So I decided it was time to write out my testimony. Why I boast and praise the Lord and the gift in being a faithful person.