Sixteen months have gone by since my husband took his life one fateful day in November. Ours was the perfect love story, but somewhere along the line things went terribly wrong. My husband got very sick, dissociating from me and from himself. The fairytale ending I had expected went up in smoke in one terrible moment.
Trauma shatters the soul and makes everything appear meaningless. Life loses its luster, courage goes out the window, and sorrow and suffering become constant companions. Why go on, I asked myself on many dark nights of the soul. I couldn’t muster up the will to live, much less think of what being a victorious Christian woman might look like down the road in the wake of such a traumatic event.
So what have I done the past year and a half to emerge whole again? I’ve screamed. I’ve wailed. I’ve been gripped with fear. I’ve been unable to function. I’ve lost hope, and I’ve lost part of my soul. And truthfully, there are still so many moments when I can’t breathe from the pain. This is the ugly side of trauma. But juxtaposed to those days when I’m one step away from drowning, there are more days of laughter, praise, gratitude and faith. And breathing (deeply) is the only centering thing that pulls me away from the flashbacks.
As tragic as this story is, it’s not the end of the story for me—or for you, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in that threatens to swallow you whole.
It could be a betrayal by someone dear. It could be the loss of a loved one. It could be a long illness, financial ruin, or shattered dreams. Whatever you’re facing today, I would implore you not to give up. The reason is simple. Your story isn’t finished yet. How do I know that? Because mine isn’t.
If I can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and come out whole, so can you. You can be a victorious woman because victory isn’t the sum total of what you do. That’s not to say what you do, or don’t do, during those dark nights of the soul isn’t important; it is. But victory isn’t succeeding or failing at the healing tasks of the heart. When we face tragedy we will all pass through the stages of grief. But real victory is more.
Real victory is a person, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and when hearts are hemorrhaging only one thing is necessary—an intimate love relationship with the God who came to bind up the brokenhearted. We must explore our concept of who we believed God to be before the trial ever hit. Why? Because our concept of God will determine everything about how we order our lives. It will also determine the path our hearts will take.
If we believe God is distant, detached, uncaring, or if we believe He has withheld or caused our pain, it will be more difficult (but not impossible) for us to risk coming close to Him. If we believe lies about His nature and character, it will be harder to emerge victorious. And I have learned that the surrender of the heart is the only way to come out of the shadow and into the light again.
The key to being victorious in any circumstance is knowing the power of Him who holds each circumstance we face in the palm of His hand. My husband’s suicide didn’t catch God by surprise. He was right there with him in the darkest place known to a man. And He was there with me too as I walked into that room and found him. My ability to emerge victorious from such a horrible tragedy was due to several key things that I feel are essential for recovery. They include but are not limited to:
- A right concept of God
- A strong support network
- Walking through your pain – not avoiding it
- An ability to wrestle with God on tough questions
- A desire to fight the battle to reclaim your heart
- A willingness to step out and risk your heart again
- The desire to reinvest your heart and reclaim your passions
- The willingness to consider God’s bigger plan
Rest assured these things take time—lots of it. I know they did for me, and even now, a year and a half later there are still many days I feel as if I’m falling backwards. But one thing is for certain, God is always there to catch me. He is the One who rebuilds the ruins in our lives and allows us to emerge victorious.
So, may we embrace even the most difficult moments in our lives. May we see them as ushering in greater growth and purpose that we can’t see with earthly eyes. And may we know in the heart of our being that the story isn’t finished yet, and one day God will make all things new!