By Dena Johnson Martin, Crosswalk.com
Twenty-seven years ago, I was full of hope and anticipation for the future God had for me. I was newly married anticipating a life of ministry for the God I loved so much. I couldn’t wait to see what He had in store for us!
I could see it so perfectly: We would faithfully serve Him and our church together, a team that could never be broken. We would have children who grew up to know and love God. We would use the gifts God gave us to reach a broken world for Him.
Although I was not quite ready, I knew what kind of a mom I would be. I looked forward to being a stay-at-home mom, at least while my kids were young. Whatever I found to do after they went to school would allow me to still be the homeroom mom, to attend all of their field trips, and to be home when they got home from school. I would always have a nutritious home-cooked meals at night and fresh home-baked cookies after school. We would enjoy craft projects and parks and science museums and all things that would encourage a love for learning.
Little did I know that some seventeen years later, the life I always dreamed of would shatter. My hopes and dreams crumbled in front of me.
I lost my marriage to adultery.
I lost my position of pastor’s wife to divorce.
I lost my ability to stay home with my children because single parents have to work.
I lost my ability to have fresh baked goodies after school because of my job.
I missed way too many parties and field trips.
I was too exhausted to cook anything at night, let alone find something healthy.
I was too busy to do craft projects or go to parks or science museums.
I often felt like I was too focused on surviving to be the Mom I always wanted to be.
I lost the life I always dreamed of.
The life I live today is not the life I dreamed of, but let me tell you a little about it.
I found a man (actually, God brought him to me) who loves me unconditionally, who loves me exclusively. I have a husband who has shown me what it is to love as Christ loves the Church. He has fought for my affection (still does!) and wants only the best for me and my kids. I never knew what it was to be loved until he stepped into my life. The love I know and experience today is like nothing I had before.
I have a man who has given selflessly in so many ways! Not many people have the ability to love someone else’s kids as if they are his own, but my husband does! He has done more for my kids in the last three or four years than their biological dad ever did. Even though they don’t always want a dad, he perseveres and loves like the perfect Heavenly Father does. He is a good father to kids who have never known the unconditional love of a dad.
I still mourn the mom I wanted to be, but I also recognize that I have taught my kids lessons they will always remember. Hard work. Perseverance. Rising above our circumstances. Sacrificing for the good of others. I found myself sharing my disappointment with my daughter one day, and she simply said, “I am so thankful for the mom we have not the mom you wanted to be.”
Perhaps the most beautiful part of the life I live is the joy of my relationship with my Father! My faith has been tested and purified by fire. I have known the intimacy of a relationship with God like nothing I had ever known before. I know what it is to be pursued relentlessly, loved in spite of my unfaithfulness. I know what it is to see God work in mighty ways, to experience His perfect provisions.
The life I life today is not what I wanted, but I am so grateful to God for giving me this life!
So what can I learn from the life I always wanted?
God is good….all the time. I know it sounds cliché, but it is so very true. Even in the midst of our pain and devastation, we can trust that He is working things out for our good and His glory. If it’s not good, He’s not finished. He truly does work all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
Even when God is silent, I can trust His heart. I have this quote hanging on my wall, and it is one I often had to repeat to myself in the midst of the pain. God’s character is good, loving, faithful. Sometimes it is hard to believe this in the midst of this life. But, believe what the Word says about who He is. His heart is good, and He longs to give us good gifts…in His time (Psalm 37:4-7).
He is working even when I can’t see it. I told Roy recently about a scripture God gave me from Daniel. It simply says that the moment Daniel humbled himself and began to pray, God heard and answered. But, there was a spiritual war being waged that delayed the answer from being delivered to Daniel. I was given this verse within days of reconnecting with Roy on Facebook. I now see that there was a spiritual battle that needed to be waged, a spiritual war that drew Roy back to the faith of his childhood and set him on the path to become the man God created Him to be. If either of us had tried a short cut, we would have missed so many blessings. He was working something beautiful even though we couldn’t see it at the time.
Our faith is built upon the truth of resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus was just a good teacher. Without the resurrection, we lose the hope of all things being made new. The resurrection is what sets our faith apart from the other religions on earth. Just like Jesus being raised from the dead, God promises to raise our lives from the dead and create something new and beautiful. Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us to look for the new thing He is doing! We see Jesus call Lazarus to put away the graveclothes and come out of the grave in John 11. Watching the old die and new things come to life is the foundation of our faith…and that’s exactly what happens when we lose the life we dreamed of.
I could probably go on and on about the life I wanted versus the life I am now living. What I have found is that trusting God with our future gives us a life we never dreamed of—and one we wouldn’t change for anything this world has to offer.