Overcoming Obstacles, Heartbreaks and Adversity – Part 1
I was thinking on the year so far and all the obstacles, heartbreaks and adversity that I have personally experienced. Then I came across this scripture (verse 7 particularly):
“ 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:3-7, 13 (NKJV)
I certainly have been, “bearing, believing, hoping and enduring all things” with those I love this year. I began the year believing and claiming it as the “Year of Reconciliation”. Perhaps that was a bad move to proclaim such a thing? But I truly believed that God had planted that in my heart, so I proclaimed it publically. While there has been reconciliation, I have had my share of heartbreak and adversity within the first 3 months of the year. Some broken relationships were restored early on which gave everyone in the family a great sense of joy. My prodigal son came home (that is an entire story in itself which I will share another time) and it seemed the relationship with him, his partner and their baby son was finally restored. This apparent joy was very short-lived and 5 ½ weeks later he disappeared, with a barrage of anger and aggression, as quickly as he came. This precipitated a major speed bump in my anorexic daughter’s recovery journey and had an enormous effect on my own health. I discovered a betrayal of trust in my relationship with my husband of 15 months that rocked me to the core. I also had to accept that the nerve and muscle damage I sustained in my car accident in November 2009 is permanent and the chronic pain associated with it may not be treatable.
At the time I read the scripture above, I was listening to the song “Take Heart” by Hillsong.
The bridge says:
“All our troubles, And all our tears, God our hope, He has overcome.
All our failure, And all our fear, God our love, He has overcome.
All our heartache, And all our pain, God our healer, He has overcome.
All our burdens, And all our shame, God our freedom, He has overcome.
God our justice, God our grace, God our freedom, He has overcome.
God our refuge, God our strength, God is with us, He has overcome.”
I asked myself, “Why am I struggling so much to overcome these latest obstacles and heartbreaks? I have had to deal with enormous challenges in the past and managed to come out the other side victorious and smiling. So, how did I cope with heartbreak and adversity before all this? What were my strategies to overcome them?”
Then I began thinking about my life thus far, particularly my adult life… 27 ½ years ago, at the very young age of 18, I married a man who I thought loved me. Perhaps he did; I will never really know. I had a strong belief that marriage was for life; I said my vows before God and I meant them, so I remained in a marriage which had its happy times but as the years went by it was damaged severely by the storms of abuse, neglect and betrayal. After 14 years, my marriage ended after a long and tiring battle to keep it alive. It left me exhausted emotionally, my faith in men and my passion for life almost destroyed. I was left to raise my 4 children (aged 5, 6, 8 and 13) on my own. I didn’t have a job and had done little paid work over the previous 9 years so I didn’t have much to offer. I did have a teaching degree, albeit with very little teaching experience.
In spite of being battered and bruised by my circumstances, I managed to pick myself up, dust myself off and move forward to rebuilding our shattered lives and creating a new life filled with peace, laughter and great memories. I did have my days when I wondered how I was going to manage this alone and there were plenty of tears but I continued to forge ahead, not losing focus on where I was headed.
I was also very blessed to have the love and support of my immediate family, although we were separated by 2000km. My parents were a tower of strength and a constant source of wisdom and support throughout that time. Separation and divorce teach you some valuable lessons; one I quickly learned was who my real friends were.
With my parents being so far away and discovering I had very few real friends, I put my faith in God and trusted Him to show me the way through. I was the only person my children had to rely on, they put their faith in me and I could not let them down. My determination to succeed was the key in overcoming the obstacles I faced. Giving up was not an option for me, failure was not an option either. Some days I had no idea how things were going to work out, but I knew they would. God had always provided and I knew that as long as my faith was in Him, He would provide our needs. I surrounded myself with people who were loving, encouraging, supportive, and lacking in judgement. It was during this time I found my greatest supporter (other than my family) – my best friend Nat, a single mother who had experienced similar obstacles, heartbreak and adversity and who was on her own journey.
I also held fast to a scripture God gave me in the first few weeks of my separation:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)
In raising children alone, another huge obstacle I had to face was the financial one. Where once I had a husband to provide financially while I raised the children, and I did only a little part-time work on the side to supplement the family income, now I was the sole financial provider for my family. So, almost immediately after becoming a single parent, I started working as a relief teacher at the Christian school my children attended and I continued to work as a swimming coach (that Teaching degree, along with the Swim Coach certificate, came in handy after all). Between these two jobs I had a reasonable amount of work. With my parents help, I managed to buy myself a beautiful house which became our family home. Interestingly the street name was “Carinyan Drive” – “Carinya” being an Aboriginal word meaning “peaceful, happy home”. And this is exactly what our home became; a place of peace, happiness, love, laughter and wonderful memories for the 11 years we lived there. Over those years I worked hard to provide not only financial stability but also emotional stability for my 4 beautiful children. I raised them with unconditional love and taught them about responsibility, respect, honour, love and the true value of family.
Overcoming the physical obstacles in my life was the easiest part of my journey. The most difficult and painful obstacles to overcome were those in my mind and my heart. My heart had been broken and destroyed from the damage of abuse, neglect and betrayal. Emotional pain takes time to heal and it can be long process. Without God in my life, I do not believe I would have been able to overcome the hurt and pain I experienced at the hands of a man who was a very lost soul himself. The bible says:
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 (NKJV)
God was my rock through this time, my constant source of comfort, peace, strength, courage, joy and grace. Any time we, as a family, had challenges we would talk, pray and seek guidance from God. There were plenty more challenges along the way but we managed to deal with them as a family and come out the other side relatively unscathed.