“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
A.A. Milne (quote from Christopher Robin)
I have been through a lot of painful challenges in my life.
Wait!!! I need to rephrase that…God has brought me through a lot of painful challenges in my life.
He has brought me through many years of child abuse while I was growing up by a very significant adult in my life; a domestic violence first marriage after becoming pregnant with his child while we were engaged and being homeless and living in shelters three times during that engagement and marriage; escaping my first husband with our boys who were four months old and five years old at the time; starting a new life in a town across the state from my dangerous ex-husband.
He has brought me through living with PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder; some of the challenges of living with my own disorders while being married to my second husband who struggled with bipolar disorder and what that brought with it at times; going through the horror of the tragic car accident that claimed the life of my second/late husband and barely surviving the accident myself; two years of caring for my two sons who were seriously injured in the same accident and rebuilding my life. And I can’t forget to mention the PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorder and permanent physical limitations that I now deal with every day following all of this.
Yes…I do feel a series or e-book coming from this article…
You see, there is one phrase that I want you to focus on from all that I just shared with you.
“God has brought me through a lot of painful challenges in my life.”
Through it all, I was NEVER alone. God was with me. He was cradling me in His arms, filling me with his strength, courage, wisdom, giving me His comfort when nothing else would comfort me.
So many times I hear people say to me…
“Mary you are so much stronger than I!! I could never survive what you have been through in your life.”
“But you are wrong!! I am weak. I had to lean completely on God every day and continue to do so as I face the challenges of every day life. It is God who is strong…not me.” –has been my standard response.
I am learning something in recent weeks though…I am learning that I am braver than I believe I am. I am brave not because of me…but because of remembering to trust God and embrace the challenges I am faced with as opportunities instead of obstacles. My strength is in God and I am so, so grateful to Him for filling me and refilling me each day.
But I am also thankful that He helps me to be braver than I believe I am.
About a month ago, I was faced with another opportunity to be braver than I believed I was. My new father-in-law is very, very ill and I needed to get to our new home in Texas in July instead of waiting until the time that James and I had set aside and planned for him to come up to Missouri where I lived and we would get married and he would pick up the trailer for me, he would take the lead in packing the trailer, and then he would drive our car pulling our trailer behind it from Missouri to Texas and we would start our life together as a new family.
James didn’t ask me to come early, but nothing was going to stop me from getting there.
I told him my desire to come in July. He was blown away and I could feel and hear the relief in his voice. It wouldn’t be easy to do…but I was determined.
The first thing we did is look at his work schedule to see when we could get a flight to get him to Missouri so that we could do a super quick version of our original August plan. It didn’t look good.
Later that night, he called me from work and asked me to go onto Mapquest and map out the route we would need to take and pick out daily stopping points so that we would be able to do it in three days. (My back pain/physical condition doesn’t allow me to travel in a car well enough to handle driving in less than that.)
I was an executive assistant at one time in my life and this kind of thing is fun for me so I jumped at the chance. He called me later that night to see how it was going. I excitedly told him what I had found and how we could do it.
He told me how happy he was of me for taking this and running with it having never made this particular trip before. I felt proud of myself.
Then he broke the news…
He had come to realize that with his work schedule the way it was and how serious his dad’s condition was, he needed me to think about something for him.
He knew that I was afraid to do the trip as the only adult and only driver. He knew it wouldn’t be easy for me to do on my own. But he reminded me of all that God has brought me through. And he said these words to me…
You are braver than you believe. And until you believe you can do it…I will believe in you for you. I will never give up on you. I know you can do this, Mary. You are an amazing woman. You are intelligent and have done this sort of thing many years ago when you were a youth minister traveling across country to your new position several states away. I know that your anxiety comes from the trauma you endured going through the horrific car accident two years ago. But look how far you have come!!!! You can do this. You already have it mapped out. You can break that route down into four or five days instead of three to make traveling easier on you and the boys. You can stop at motels with swimming pools and relax your back in the water while the boys burn off energy each night.
Now, I totally understand if you decide you aren’t up for doing this trip without me in the car driving. But I want you to remember something. You are not alone. God will carry you every mile. And I will be a phone call away and there to coach you before each day’s journey via phone or skype. I will be there if you have any questions or come into any challenges. But more than that…I believe in you!!! He told me that he saw this as a a growing opportunity too. A chance to seriously face down my fears and anxieties about traveling and kick Satan on his butt one final time in this area of my life. And this…you conquer this, Mary, and you can do anything!!!!
But I want you to know that the decision is totally yours. If you aren’t ready to do it, I totally get that too. I will not be upset or disappointed in you. I will continue to love you and continue to believe in you.
And I will still stand behind you.
Mary… YOU ARE BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE! And I will always be here for you, no matter what you decide.
He asked me to pray about it and sleep on it and let me know my decision the next day.
His words rang in my heart and in my ears.
Memories of how much in my life God has brought me through and memories of how God rescued me from the tragic car accident that almost took my life and did take my late husband’s life sped through my mind.
And again his words rang in my mind and heart…
You are braver than you believe and I will believe in you for you until you are ready to do it for yourself. You can do this!
I realized that whether or not I felt brave enough to face my fear and conquer it by making this important life changing road trip with just me with Josh and Michael was a question of whether or not I really trusted God to bring me through this. Did I trust God enough to step out of my comfort zone and drive over 600 miles to our new home and new family..and my amazing fiance with the anxieties, fears, and physical limitations/challenges that I have or not?
Taking this step meant facing one of my major PTSD issues. My Jimmy believed in me. He knew I could do it because God would be with me and he saw something in me that I hadn’t been ready to see…until that day.
You are braver than you believe.
I decided it was time to trust God and believe that I could do it. If I really meant that I wouldn’t let anything stop me from getting to my Jimmy to be with him through this painful time in his/his family life. If I really meant that…then that meant not letting my PTSD or physical challenges stop me.
I decided to lay my fears and concerns at the feet of our Lord and not pick them back up. I decided to totally trust that God would make a way. I decided to remember that I have the skills to plan and make this trip without a problem and that I was not planning it or making it alone. My Jimmy would be with me through every step of planning and sharing his wisdom of past years of over the road driving.
I realized that being brave had nothing to do with being fearless! It has everything to do with realizing my fears, facing them, trusting God, and not letting anything stop me!!!
When he called me the next morning when he got home from work (he works the overnight shift at the hospital), I was ready with my answer.
I would make the trip. I chose to believe that I am brave and stand in that truth. I chose to trust God.
We spent three weeks planning and day by day I checked off each task from the long list of things I needed to do in order to be ready to go on July 14th. Obstacles surfaced but we dealt with them. He acted as my very patient and wise coach through it all. I had times when I was ready to panic, but God and my Jimmy were there to comfort me and help me back up on my feet again.
And he would remind me…
You are braver than you believe.
He poured belief into me when I needed it most.
He never gave up on me and that belief and encouragement helped me to begin to strengthen my wobbly legs and become stronger and braver as I faced each task and challenge until I was completely ready to make the trip! I was completely ready to face my fears!
One wobbly step became firm and determined ones and I didn’t let fear stop me from fully living!
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NIV
And do you know what?
My Jimmy was right! We broke the trip up into a week of travel but I did it! I faced obstacles along the way…but I did it! I didn’t give up! I chose to trust God every day. My Jimmy talked to me about how my day’s driving went every afternoon/evening when we arrived at our day’s destination. He coached me and walked through my route for the new day every morning. He gave me great advise on how to drop the car into first and second gear to help it up the hills and to more safely slow down on the high hills. Every morning and every night he told me what a great job I was doing and how proud he was of me. He told me he loved me in his words and through his amazing support and belief along the way…every day.
When I had stressful moments along the way I prayed constantly! When we hit weather issues and road construction the boys and I prayed out loud together. But we were braver than we believed we were at the beginning of that trip.
With his help and trust in God to take care of us…I was able to begin facing my PTSD issues in a big way and on July 18th we pulled into the parking lot at the McDonald’s where I met up with my Jimmy and my new step-son who were waiting for us ready to lead us from there to our new home. Because I faced my fears and trusted God, that morning, I walked into Jimmy’s arms, he held me and whispered to me…I knew you could do it, babygirl. I love you and I am so, so proud of you. And tears streamed down my face and joy filled my heart.
Now I have something to tell you…
YOU are braver than you believe!
This isn’t just about me, it is about every single one of us! I know that many of you are facing obstacles or challenges or painful loss in your life right now. I know it can be terrifying at times and so tempting to give up. I just want to tell you that YOU can do this!!!
YOU are NOT alone! God is with you every step of the way!!! YOU can do this! God’s got you!!! He will carry you through it! Break down whatever you need to do to face what you fear into small bites. Doing that made a huge difference for me. Looking at the huge list of what I needed to accomplish in just three weeks and the unknown I faced heading out on the road, I would begin to panic. But then I would hear that quiet voice…YOU are braver than you believe. With God all things are possible. Don’t give up!
Sometimes we just need someone to speak belief into our lives.
If you don’t have someone in your life who can do that for you right now…I want to do that for you right now.
YOU are braver thank you believe!!!
YOU can do this!!!
Trust God! He will carry you!!
What is it that is stopping you from getting to where you want or need to be? It is time to let it go and hang onto God for dear life, step out in faith, and take the first step.
Because…my sweet sister…YOU are braver than you believe!
Is there something you need to face today? I would be honored if you chose to share it in the comments below and let me pray with you about it and let our blog community pray lift you up in their prayers.