After I was out of the abusive relationship I was in, I was completely lost and felt alone. Life came with so many ups and downs, disappointments and feeling lost and confused. I had no identity that wasn't locked into someone else. I eventually felt like my life died because it was so difficult for me, but when I died, Christ lived in me. Christ began to give me the strength I needed to overcome, one day at a time.
My initial identity was in my husband and in being a victim. Once he was gone, then it was in my children and work and even in my church life. I lived for everyone else and had no idea who I was or what I was made for. I didn't know what actually made me happy, as I had always lived for everyone else. It wasn't until I lost everything, including access to my children, that I began to see that I was clueless about me. I spent all my time helping someone else. I am a nurse as well, and that job made it easy to help others and to not have to see myself or what my choices were doing to hurt others.
Finding our identity isn't always easy and to me, it's impossible to do without Christ. I didn't know what I was made for. I knew I was a good nurse, but was that really me? Was that really what I was made to do?
Something began changing inside of me once I really started looking at myself. I looked at the good, the bad and the ugly. I looked at what others thought of me and what I thought of me and really started searching out what I liked and what I didn't. When I found something I didn't like, I prayed for change. I made every effort I could muster up, and then I gave the rest to God to help me fix. I kept searching for things that were REALLY me, not just what I thought I was supposed to be or to have.
Life began emerging as I continued to search out the real me. I began laughing again and not just trying to please everyone around me. I began feeling whole again, not just a shell of regret or what once was. I found life, even though I couldn't see my children much at all during this time. God was giving me life back and it was a great place to be. I sometimes even felt guilty that I was enjoying myself and my life. I felt guilty because I once thought if others weren't happy, I shouldn't be either, but that is a lie. WE can be happy, even when others can't find that place. Maybe our happiness inside is what will help them to see that they can once again be happy as well.
Life is a journey. Sometimes people within our churches don't realize that we are still going to mess up. We are still going to do wrong sometimes. We are still going to not be perfect. I am finally okay with not being perfect. Life is a journey and I am quite happy of this journey I am on. I am human, and that just has to be good enough.
Domestic abuse doesn't have to kill us inside, even though it often FEELS like it does. There is recovery and there is moving past it. There is overcoming power in the name of Jesus Christ. His strength is what gave me the strength to keep going. His love is what showed me there is life after trauma. His life is what showed me that there is no fear inside of us that cannot be washed away with His blood and His saving grace.
Start today and ask Him to help you overcome your fears and learn to live Beyond Your Life, in the life He gave you. Make today the day you change and let it be the first day of the rest of your life.
Rachel Everhart RN