I publicly admit that I did not, on my own, have the strength and the courage to do what I needed to do. I had to have help, and God gave it to me in a way I could not have expected.
I chose to accept the help, strength, and courage, that came from a source outside of me.
I chose to reject the advice of giving myself time in between relationships, as good as that advice is.
Sometimes your strength comes from within you; at other times it comes from others believing in you.
A friend told me when I was about to undergo major surgery in 2011: ‘Be strong and courageous’, (found many times in the book of Joshua). I held onto those words when I felt like I was going to die in the hours before the operation and in the days after. I knew my physical strength would come back to me. I told myself I was strong and courageous. My strength came from within me, and with it, I overcame extreme emotional and physical challenges.
Years later I quickly remarried after getting divorced. I have questioned myself often (because I am unwaveringly analytical), ‘Did I do the right thing?’ I always come back to the same answer. Yes!
This truth about myself has caused me to stop wondering: as strong as I may appear to be, as purposeful as I am about being emotionally healthy, the relationship I had with my ex-husband was one area of my life in which I didn’t know how to summon strength and courage. I needed the particular wisdom, experience, helping hand, and push, that Jesse had to offer me; and he needed mine for different areas of his life.
Were it not for my husband I could not have done the healing work I have allowed within myself. If I had chosen a life without him I would still be settling for significantly less than I should in many areas of my life. I would not have had the strength nor the courage to stay away from the kind of sadness I had grown used to. I would not have been able to set up boundaries, nor give myself the freedom to define myself for myself, instead of for everyone else.
Conventional wisdom says ‘take time in between relationships’, especially in cases like mine, after a marriage of nearly a quarter century. I agree with that, and so I questioned if I should have taken that time because I know it is such good advice; but I also knew when Jesse proposed and I said yes, that he was exactly who I wanted.
So when people judge, condemn, and/or put me aside because of this unconventional decision I made, I can now easily tell myself, ‘They just don’t get it.’ Now I understand how Jesus was able to say, ‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.’ Lord knows that if I were in their shoes, I would have probably rejected me as well.
But I’m not in their shoes; I’m in mine. I’m very familiar with my shoes, where they’ve been, and where they’ve taken me.
I know my journey and what my heart has been through. I know the heartache, misgivings, and the self esteem issues that plagued me; and after unrelenting self-analysis, I have no doubt that my strength, courage, the ability to stand my ground, and to fight when I needed to in the last few years, were birthed in me because my husband who was first my friend, believed in me.
This is my story that came about through much prayer, as readers of my book Exodus: A Journey Through Divorce will have already heard about. I didn’t up and decide one day that this man would be the man to help me gain strength and courage. I believe this was a God-ordained and directed process. I defied convention and expectations because of the conviction of that belief. It became clear to me very early in the journey that I had to make a choice for myself with this man, or wind up in a worse place than I could imagine, (Seven spirits -Matt 12:43-45).
Your story and mine are different. The take-away I want to give you from what happened to me is that sometimes our strength and courage come from God-provided, unconventional, outside sources.
You may be refusing to accept the help you’re being offered because it isn’t being presented in a package that you would have picked for yourself. Get prayerful. Ask for your spiritual eyes and ears to be opened, and then start to live expecting God to answer your prayer in this regard.
Before God first tells Joshua (1:6) to be strong and courageous, He tells him, “I will never leave you or forsake you.’ That is solid truth right there. God is the One who provides your strength and your courage, and He can package that however He chooses to.
To be strong and courageous means to stand on the strength you already have, and to accept the help you need, especially when it comes from a God-ordained source outside of yourself.
Sometimes your strength comes from within you; at other times it comes from others believing in you. You are strongest when those two come together.
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