Have you too been kicked out of the Garden?

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 for  the spiritual, physical and mental “sweat” or work it would take to make it in what would unfold in my life.

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 illustrate just a few real-life experiences that any of us could find ourselves in.  Each one of these situations along with other hardships that aren’t on this list has attached to it a difficult path that has to be walked through, not skipped over. Every hard road that we may happen to find ourselves on requires an extreme amount of mental, physical, and spiritual “sweat ” to get through.

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 was all FOR THEM.  For me when I was in the middle of the different messes I have found myself in, I wanted to say “hey Lord, thanks but NO thanks.”  I appreciate the experience, but I’m good, REALLY.  I’ll pass for now.  I appreciate you for thinking of me Lord,  however, I think I’ll skip the disaster this time.  Maybe I’ll sign up for a faith and character building experience next year, my schedule is all booked for now.

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 innocent white picket fence like dreams of the future.  My heart is bigger, my faith is stronger, I see life through different lenses.  I am softer and stronger. The former me wasn’t even aware that there were new and different ways of seeing the world available to me. In the middle of all the ugly, the hard, the unfairness, and suffering, God was at work all along. He was there.  I didn’t know it, but He was changing me, walking with me.  He was molding my heart right along with my children’s and my husband. I couldn’t see it then, I was too immersed in the pain to notice.

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 unthinkables.  I do know the day comes eventually. In many ways, it has for me. There are some situations in my life that still can’t see it.  I haven’t walked the trek far enough, to have that blessed viewpoint of looking far back behind me and having any of it make sense.  I am still too close. I am still in the thick of it.  I do know I am the person that I am today because of the trials I have walked through. I feel and appreciate the sunshine more because I have been in dark places. I am me because of all the times I have fallen down, and as painful as it was, I got back up. I don’t want to repeat any of them.  I don’t wish any of the hard things I have experienced on anyone.  It’s been my own journey of learning and growth, and I am thankful for every bit of it, ugliness and all.  I also know that it’s not over.  Going through difficulty doesn’t give any of us a pass to smooth sailing until the end.  Yours will look different than mine, and everyone else’s.  Every single person that you and I meet, has their own basket of hardship, pain, thorns, and thistles that they are carrying and passing through.  I know this because it is always true if you are human.  I am thankful that I have lived through enough in my life that I know it’s possible, and have learned how to have peace in tumultuous times.  I know it is within our reach to find beauty in the ashes, and create a life that is more beautiful than you can imagine.  I know if we are willing to put forth the sweat required we can rebuild something that has been destroyed and make it stronger than it ever was before, including ourselves.

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 too are meant to be beautiful, strong, and have joy in your life.

travis & me

22 Comments

  1. Lea
    April 14, 2019 / 1:31 am

    Beautiful. You truly just made me break down as this is so true. It is amazing how sometimes we are so quick to judge a situation yet when I took time to get to know them there is a story behind why their actions or they portrayed themselves the way they did.
    I needed to hear this. Thank you.

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:10 pm

      LEA!
      Thank you so much for reading!! You are such a beautiful soul, and I’m so glad our paths have crossed. I’m glad these words found their way to you!
      I appreciate it,
      XO,
      ~missy

  2. Miranda VanBrande
    April 14, 2019 / 1:50 am

    Love this my friend, can’t wait to read more ❤️

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:09 pm

      Thank you girl, I appreciate you cheering for me.
      love you,
      XO,
      ~missy

  3. Casey Hermansen
    April 14, 2019 / 1:51 am

    So well articulated! I too read through that list of life’s curve balls and multiple times had flashback emotions reminding me of mountains climbed, battles fought, and losses endured.
    Just last night I, along with a couple of my mission buddies sat with our now fragile, but still mountain of man 83 yr old mission president talking about this very subject. So many opportunities have come, weaknesses made into strengths…. blessings from the hard stuff in life!
    Thanks for sharing Melissa! You are one of the good ones!

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:08 pm

      Thank you Casey,
      Life can be so heavy, and so grande!!! Thanks for reading, and your encouraging words. It means a lot!
      XO,
      ~missy

  4. Taunya
    April 14, 2019 / 4:18 am

    Missy,

    Wow! This is beautiful . I truly love your thoughts and wisdom. And I’m so glad you got this going. You’re right, there’s never the perfect time. You did it!! Can’t wait to read more. Xo

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:05 pm

      Thank you for leading the way, I’m following your courage to dive in, thanks for being brave and always sitting in my cheering secction:) Love you sister friend.
      XO,
      ~missy

  5. Christine Higgins
    April 14, 2019 / 4:41 am

    Melissa this is so true and so beautiful. I was just talking to my dear Sister in law today about some of these exact things and to see your post on insta and read it in detail here is a tender mercy to my heart. God does indeed put angels in our path and tonight you are that angel. Thank you for being brave enough to post and share and strengthen! Much love to you…

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:04 pm

      Chirstine,
      WOW! That means so much to me!! I love how our Father in Heaven truly is involved in the details of our lives, I’m grateful our paths have crossed. Much love to you and your sister in law:)
      XO,
      ~missy

  6. Daniel Blankenship
    April 14, 2019 / 9:49 am

    Wow! Such beautiful writing and so inspiring, thanks for sharing. You are awesome!

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:01 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and your encouragement! I appreciate it more than you know.
      XO,
      ~missy

  7. Luke Ochoa
    April 14, 2019 / 7:48 pm

    Wow!!!! This is a true testimony of faith, Gods grace and perseverance.
    Life has not turned out the way i thought it would or how I thought it would be as a kid but ive learned in my trials that im not alone. Some have had worse and alot have had struggles just like me. I love this missy ” Not your final chapter” ive have been a I want what I want and I want it now all my life! Not taking time to work on my self and be the guy that God wants me to be. And in my recovery ive had to be patient and persevere through things. I’m growing and still have alot to learn and today im willing to Let Go and Let God! Cause in reality when I try and do things with out the guidance of my higher power…..i simply fail. Like you said we are living in a imperfect world that is very corrupt. Missy you are a warrior in Christ and have such a pure spirit, I say that cause I felt it reading what you wrote. For me ive experienced Gods grace, forgiveness, mercy first hand. I thank him many times a day fornthe ability to get up and live life today…..and has so much meaning to me that to me writing this doesnt justify it. So thanks so much for sharing. One more thing….. One thing ive learned these last 20months is that if i just stay true to myself addmit when im wrong not dread on the past…..and trust God…..things will be ok!!!!

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 5:00 pm

      Luke,
      Thank you SO much for your words. They truly mean so much to me. I’m looking forward to what you create in your future chapters. You are brave to share, and I know you will inspire others with your triumphs. I love your advice about admitting when your wrong and moving on. It’s the best way to live. Forgive yourself and everyone else too, and trust HIM… I love that!!!
      You too are a true soldier for HIM…thank you again for reading and sharing your thoughts.
      XO,
      ~missy

  8. Arlene
    April 14, 2019 / 10:43 pm

    I love this! Thanks for being uplifting and inspiring. ❤

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 4:55 pm

      Thank you so much Arlene,
      I miss you!!! Hope to come your way soon!
      XO,
      ~missy

  9. Sandra
    April 15, 2019 / 2:09 am

    I love this! You touched on so many areas of my life. Thank you for sharing. ❤️

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 4:54 pm

      Thank you for reading! I appreciate your encouragement:)
      XO,
      ~missy

  10. April 15, 2019 / 11:43 am

    What an AMAZING writer you are, I have been inspired, THANK YOU!!!

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 15, 2019 / 4:53 pm

      Thank you for reading and always being in my cheer section.
      XO~missy

  11. Virginia Falcon
    April 16, 2019 / 3:10 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed the uplifting story and reflections on our life journey. You always have that acute ability to touch my soul and inspire me to keep going. Thanks so much for being you! I love it and hope to share with family members.

    • melissa1028
      Author
      April 17, 2019 / 12:21 pm

      Virginia,
      Thank you for reading, and thank you for sharing with others. I always write what I need to read, I appreciate your kindness and freindship.
      XO,
      ~missy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *