Divorcing at the age of 31 causes one to lose a great sense of identity. I'm constantly wondering who I am without him. Who have I been all of my life? Where did I come from? What things have caused me to feel valued? Whole? "Normal"?
I can say for certain, that I am no longer the woman who receives flowers at work on Valentine's Day. Deliveries of gorgeous pink, orange or red tulips (my favorite flower) arriving every single year- creating envious colleagues. I am no longer the woman who dresses up for a special dinner or opens a red heart filled with chocolates- only to take one bite of every piece and place the rejects back in the box. These things I took for granted all those years are not indicative of WHO I ACTUALLY AM. I may have allowed those items to play a role in boosting my feelings of value and identity as a loved wife, but truly God has not changed my core self with the loss of those things.
My grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago. As a family, we began to take out old photos, scrapbooks, and memorabilia to clarify with Nana exactly what the meaning and value of these things is. She relates story after story about her father the dance instructor. Her childhood memories in Trenton, Michigan riding her bike and fishing with her brother. We write down dates and jot notes on the backs of old photos, not knowing when these details will be snatched from her mind permanently and we will be left wondering who all these people are?
Her Nana Ruth Hallam's family came to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1904 from England. James Hallam ministered to Chinese immigrants, but regrettably moved his seven daughters to the middle of nowhere just at the marrying age for many of them...thankfully six of the seven daughters married (praise the Lord!) and eventually, only one forlorn sister was left in Moose Jaw to live her poor, sad, single life. According to her sisters, who repeatedly called her "poor Grace", being single was just about the worst plight imaginable.
I immediately identify with my ancestor Grace and draw near to her story. Her very name means "God's favor". We sort through an entire box of her things- letters, notes, and saved clippings of her "sad, lonely life". Upon closer inspection, it seems that our Grace was quite satisfied with the love of her Lord. She kept a large collection of quotes from the lectures of Rev. Mother Janet Stewart. These yellowed papers are marked up with Grace's underlines, checks, arrows, and exclamation marks- just as I mark my own readings to highlight important sections and phrases.
This quote is heavily marked:
"Remember that whatever happens...you must say to yourself, according to circumstances, joyfully and thankfully, or humbly and submissively, or bravely, or if need be defiantly to the troubles within:
"This is part of the story," and the story is God's love for you and yours for Him."
Whatever you're going through this Valentine's Day- THIS is part of the story. The story of God's love for you, and your love for Him.
This life you never imagined? All part of the love story.
This day without chocolates, flowers, or tangible gifts? Filled with the story of God's love for you, and your love for Him.
Shiny, happy people holding hands, getting engaged, having babies, eating fancy food all over Facebook? It's part of their story- not yours. God has got your story all worked out my friend. His love for you never fails.
His plans for you ARE love as only God ISLOVE in His very being. (1 John 4:8)
Don't bother looking to the right or to the left today girls. Look ahead and look up- the story here is God's love for YOU and your love for HIM.
I was reading through Paul's conversion story in Acts chapter 9...perhaps we don't all realize that murdering God's people was part of Saul's story. (I know you thought this was a post about love, but just stick with me here!) When God literally blinds Paul on the road to Damascus, he sends Ananias to go and lay hands on Saul to restore his sight. Ananias is understandably a little hesitant, realizing that Saul has committed innumerable evils against God's people. But here is what God says about Saul/Paul:
Acts 9:15-16 (ESV) Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.
Paul was a chosen instrument of God. Just like you and I. We are chosen to carry God's name to the people around us. Chosen to live only the story God has for us. Sorry (but not sorry!) to get real here with you ladies, but none of us have ever suffered for the sake of God the way Paul did...beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, persecuted, hungry, thirsty, and alone was he. This isn't meant to bring you down, but to remind us...
In the light of eternity, all that will matter is our love story with a God who plans our purposes: our love for Him and His love for us.
No matter what happens- say defiantly to those circumstances- all that matters is YOU GOD. My story is filled with evidences of God's love right before my very eyes. In the midst of every single storm- His calm and His provision, and His nearness ARE MY STORY.
So today when you think maybe Valentine's Day is one you'd rather skip, remember your story of love. The intangible gifts showered on you by God each day. The tangible beauty of His creation- even in Michigan in February. His promises for a beautiful future in His arms every day from now until eternity. That's our story.
I wish I had known my ancestor Grace Hallam. If only I could take a trip to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and hear her story- God's love for her, and Her love for Him. Someday in Heaven I'm sure she'll tell me "poor Grace" was a most inaccurate identity for a woman of faith- a woman of love.
While I won't receive flowers from a special someone, I can truly say I'm joyous to walk THIS STORY with my Savior.
My love for Him, and His love for me.
This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.
Romans 8:38-39: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
From Left to Right:
My tiny Nana (Patricia Frost)
Her mother (Kathryn Frost)
Her Nana (Ruth Hallam Cross)
Her Aunt (Freda Fusco)
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Revive Me Again
When circumstances bring us down, only God can revive our hearts.