I am writing this to all who find themselves in places that are hard. I am writing for those who feel like they have been sucker punched by life and it landed without warning and likely on your blindside. I am writing to you if life has not turned out the way you imagined, or planned. I am also writing to myself because all of the previous words I just typed have been and are still me.
Like me, you probably envisioned what your life would be like. It may have included marrying your forever, spending all of your days together until there were wrinkles and the days ran out. Maybe there was a home you imagined with children, laughter, and love that family and friends entered often. Perhaps a business you built or a career that you loved was part of your future and would provide all that would be needed for you and those you love.
Many years ago, I could see a version of all of this in my mind. I knew what I wanted in life, never doubting that all I dreamed of would someday be a reality. Several decades have passed, the somedays have come, and amazingly all of those dreams mostly have become my life. However, not one single dream, plan or goal I had has unfolded in the way I had imagined. Looking back, I smile a little at the naive, innocent me that thought my life would be lived in my own figurative Garden of Eden.
I wasn’t expecting any thorns or thistles. I didn’t understand that my ground too would be cursed for my sake, and for the sake of those I love. I wasn’t prepared
I have read the words thorns and thistles since I was a little girl in Sunday school class. To me, it sounded ugly, painful and kind of sad for Adam and Eve. I felt sorry for them when I learned about this story as a child.
I have realized that I too have found myself walking a thorny path. I have walked or know someone personally who has walked through each of these types of thorns and thistles:
Receiving the news that your cancer is malignant * Getting a phone call that your child has been in a car accident and has been critically injured * Finding your son who has committed suicide in your home * Being backhanded for the first time as a newlywed * Getting a phone call that your brother has been killed in a car accident * Finding out that the baby you are growing inside you will have disabilities * Discovering your daughter has an eating disorder * Finding out your forever has been unfaithful * Knowing you have betrayed your forever * Realizing you have an alcohol problem * Being told by your husband of 30 plus years he is in love with another man * Finding out that your family member has relapsed. again * Burying your parents * Having to file for bankruptcy * Learning you only have a few months left with the love of your life * Promising yourself and someone you love that you will give up pornography and indulging again * The realization that you will never be a biological mother * Having to face another day with the mental illness that seems to have a vice grip on your mind and spirit * spending the remaining years of your life dependent on a wheelchair * The realization that your marriage is not even close to what you dreamed it would be * waking up and then going to bed with your uninvited and unwelcome friend named anxiety that never leaves you alone *
Like the first story of thorns and thistles, this list seems ugly, painful and extremely sad. None of these are roads that any of us would want to go down. These situations above are not exhaustive and
As I have walked through my own thorny paths, which have included more than one experience from the list above, I have found that there is something powerful that I missed in those scriptures about Adam and Eve. It was for THEIR SAKES. The thorns, the thistles, and the sweat
I remember when our son Travis was in Primary Children’s hospital fighting for his life with a severe head injury he acquired from a car accident when he was 11 years old. We spent months in the hospital and well-meaning people would often say to me some version of- “God has given this to you because you have so much faith” “He gives the hardest tests to those He loves the most” I can remember thinking, well then I don’t want ANY faith! I need to get the heck OUT of His good graces ASAP if this is the kind of rewards The Almighty is handing out to His favorites. I’ll just keep my head low and skip out of this one. I’ll take my rewards for being faithful in another form of payment other than life-shattering events.
The truth is I don’t believe that our Heavenly Father GAVE me any terrible event that has happened in my life. NOR do I believe that HE has given them to you. I don’t believe the terrible awful and ugly things are all “part of His plan” for me. I do not believe he caused the car accident. I do not believe that He created a catastrophe for me so I could learn a lesson. I do not believe HE orchestrates sickness, accidents, betrayal, or heartache of any kind. Remember, ALL the humans are OUT of the garden so to speak. We live in an unperfect world with imperfect people, and things just happen. I believe He allows us to travel through a fallen world, and sometimes He takes things away, and sometimes He helps us through, and at times carries us through the messes we find ourselves in. I do believe He allows us to go through these hard, oh so difficult times in our lives so that we can learn, change and grow. I do believe He teaches us, draws near to us, tutors, strengthens, nurtures and sends angels to us as we walk through this life. I do believe He sent His Son so that we can overcome it all.
As I have had to maneuver my way through my own unknown and scary paths, something interesting has happened over time. I have found there is beauty, strength, and level of joy in my life, that I never knew was possible before. I am not the same girl who had
If you find yourself anywhere on the above list, or if you have an entire list all your own, please know that you are not in your final chapter. You will have to have the faith and perseverance to keep walking through the darkness. Keep going. It can be a lonely place, I promise that you are not alone. None of us ever are, even though loneliness can seem like such a reality, it never lasts forever. Light always eventually peaks through the clouds. We all have those we can’t see, that our Father sends to guide, protect and help us. When you are in the darkest places, try and notice the angels you can and also the ones you can’t see, that show up in your life. They might be strangers who give a smile or show an act of kindness. They might be a friend who texts to checks on you. It might be a child who offers a hug or touches your knee. It may be a nurse who stays late just to make sure you are settled. It may be a coincidence that happens just at the right time. If you look for these tender mercies, and angels in your life, I promise you, they will be there and they will continue to come. I know this because I know that you are a child of God. No one is left out from the one who is the Ultimate Giver of Grace. It may feel like it at times, even if you can’t feel it, for now, but His grace is there. It is hard to see and feel when we are in the middle of one of life’s storms. It is even harder, if not impossible to see when we are angry. I promise the light will eventually break through enough so that you can see a little bit, however, it usually does not illuminate everything at once. Sometimes it takes years of moving forward, lots of figurative and sometimes very real “sweat from our brow” before we can see and find purpose in it all. You may not believe me on this one, but I also promise someday you and I will be able to say that we wouldn’t change a thing. It seems impossible, unimaginable to say that we are grateful for some of the heartaches we have had to endure. The
I hope you will join me on my journey, as I share how I have been able to walk through and continue to travel through thorny paths and find joy. I’ll share mine and other’s stories, and I hope you will share yours too. I hope this page will be a place of hope, kindness, a place to find strength, and place to remember who you really are. You