Calm Water

Truth be told if you pulled up the notes on my laptop you’d see 8 different blogs that I’ve started and never finished since my last one I actually posted. I guess I figured everyone was sick of hearing about it all… but I’ve accepted that all along I’ve written for me and to get my story of redemption out there, not to appease other people. So here I am, finally trying to put my thoughts together to tell you where I am now.

Well, 4 years ago today (ironically) I filed for divorce. Funny thing is that never crossed my mind until I was on the rower at the gym tonight and looked down at the date and tried to figure out why it seemed significant… then it dawned on me. If that’s not some inspiration to pull a little harder and lift a little heavier I don’t know what is.

So here I am, 4 years to the date since filing for divorce. I can finally say I’ve been divorced longer than I was married, which according to my therapist is a pretty monumental turning point. Not quite as monumental as saying I’ve been out of the abuse and trauma longer than I was in it, but still… it’s a significant milestone that’s resulted in much self reflection for me. That self reflection, and some time in the wilderness (yes, actual wilderness), has led me to this new season of life that I find myself in. Quite honestly it snuck up on me, but I couldn’t be happier.

I feel like life has thrown me curveball after curveball since 2007. Trauma after trauma seemed to come bounding into my life, and I came to accept that my life would always be chaotic and defined by difficulty. Rape, marriage to a sociopath, years of abuse, divorce, PTSD, subsequent death threats, multiple moves, job gains, job losses, deaths, failed friendships, failed relationships…. basically over the years I became more accustomed to struggle and difficulty than ease and happiness.

That is until this new season snuck up on me and suddenly the crashing waves died down, and the waters became calm before I could even realize what was happening. I’ll be honest, I became so used to chaos that I wasn’t sure how to handle the calm. But He knew that, and He knew just what it would take to make me rest in it… It took a week in the wilderness. Yep, you read that right, a week in the wilderness. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

At the end of June I found myself going on a trip into the wilderness of northern Minnesota with our church’s youth group. Canoe-ing, camping, fishing, and no technology. For years I’ve always told myself I just wanted a break from everything, I wanted the chance to disconnect and heal but with the chaos that was my life I came to terms with how distant of a dream that was. When this opportunity presented itself I was mostly terrified, but I felt the Lord leading me into the wilderness for a reason so I went. An entire week without technology, no roof over your head, no showers, no bathrooms, every comfort you’re used to gone… oh and lots of bugs and potential wildlife. Needless to say I was terrified. I was terrified of what emotions would come out, what insecurities and failures would be brought to light, what fears I wouldn’t be able to overcome, and mostly I was terrified of what would happen when I couldn’t be distracted anymore. I’ve perfected the art of distraction. Doing everything possible to avoid facing all of those things I had locked away and didn’t want to deal with. Well, the wilderness may have stripped away all of those distractions, but it also stripped away the emotional weight I had put on those things. Suddenly those things weren’t massive monumental mountains I had to overcome… 

Midway through the week my mind caught up to what my heart had been experiencing. Healing. True, Christ-centered healing. The kind of healing that I had yearned for, but was too scared to face. And the beautiful thing is that I always imagined it to be scary and highly emotional (imagine lots of hysterical crying and maybe throwing things)… instead it was gentle. I always viewed myself as this broken mess beyond fixing, but in this moment I recognized the masterpiece being created out of all of my brokenness. As I realized this I looked out from out campsite to see calm and peaceful river… it looked just like glass. And I realized that for so long I had been in the rapids of life, being bounced around from rock to rock, that I didn’t realize I was finally on the other side. I was finally in calm waters.

I will be the first person to admit that I thought this season of life would look much different. I thought I’d be married again to some incredible man who helped me accept love again, starting a family in a beautiful home, and getting to settle down a bit. 

But calm waters looks much different than that for me, and for the first time in my life I can confidently say I’m okay with that. 

I’m single, but I’m content in that… Honestly I find joy in it, because I know that I’m exactly where I need to be. I was told for years that I would never find anyone else who will love me. That I was unlovable, worthless and used goods. Those lies defined me for so long as I tried so hard to find someone who would love me, just so I could prove my ex wrong. And every time a relationship failed, I felt like those voices came back proving him right. But instead I'm seeing that my worth isn't defined by what a man says about me, but instead its defined by my identity in Christ. My story of redemption won't be complete the day a man finally loves me as Christ calls him to, but instead it'll be complete the day I'm called home to be with the Lord. Until then I will continue to shine light on the amazing redeeming work Christ is doing in my life, regardless of if I have a man or not.

I’m in a career that has allowed me the opportunity to travel and see so many incredible places and people… and I’m able to be in the dance community again. I had to quit dancing because of my ex. He wouldn’t allow me to have any part of the dance world because it distracted me from serving him… and though I never thought I’d get the opportunity to be back in it, here I am in a career that has opened that door for me again. And while it’s not without struggles and difficulties and drama, it’s something I’m thankful for everyday.

These calm waters have led me into Crossfit. And while to some of you that may sound crazy, please let me take a moment to explain. My ex spent years calling me fat, telling me how to dress or stand or walk to make sure I looked thin enough, he even went as far as weighing me and setting my goal weight and making me weigh in with him nightly (after he’d pinch my fat to prove his point). Cooking became a battle that would often result in food being thrown, vicious words being spewed, causing cooking to become one of my greatest triggers. I spent years, even after the divorce, battling those demons. Constantly struggling with my appearance and my weight and never feeling like I’d ever be happy with myself again. Attempts to cook would cause extreme anxiety (and subsequent night terrors), so I would just avoid it at all costs. I never thought I'd be able to workout or be healthy again because of the mental battles I would face every time I would try. Through much persuasion, though, I found myself in a Crossfit gym surrounded by people in INCREDIBLE shape, lifting things and doing things I could only dream of… and I knew I wanted to do that. So I signed up, and went head first into it. 

I did it for me. I didn’t do it for the voices in my head, I didn’t do it for my friends, and I certainly didn’t do it to impress anyone. 

For the first time ever, I chose to go to the gym for myself. And I haven’t looked back. I’ve found a community of awesome, encouraging people who help me build my strengths and develop my weaknesses… but most importantly I’m learning to look at my body as a God-given machine that can do some mind blowing things if you treat it and feed it well. My fears of cooking vanished when I realized I had to feed this machine well for it to perform well. I had to take care of this body I've been given... not out of fear, but out of love.

This season of calm waters, no matter how long it lasts, will be one that I will forever be thankful for. Redefining my perspective, and redefining my heart. Most beautifully, these calm waters are teaching me that love looks a lot like His gentle hand holding me and reminding me of the powerful love He has for me, and a lot less like me trying to earn someone’s earthly love… and it’s in that sweet surrender that I’ve learned to rest in the calm waters.