For awhile now, I have been thinking and praying about specific ways I can live with purpose. I’ve found myself wondering what is my purpose and what am I being called to do. I’m not talking about a general direction and vague goals, I’m talking about very specific steps I can take. I’ve found myself asking God to speak to my heart and show me what I need to be doing, because he definitely has my attention and I will follow where He leads.
Over the past year and half, I have felt led to share my heart with others in a way that is real and encouraging. I’m naturally a private person so sharing details about my life and my thoughts are not always easy for me. However, I’m convinced that our stories are a gift and when we share them well, they connect us with others and helps us realize that we are not alone - there are people out there who have been where we are right now and they get it. Up until this point, I’ve shared my story through posts on social media, speaking and through conversations. I’m comfortable doing that now, but I feel led to push past my comfort zone and be willing to share our journey in a real way that continues to admit that change is hard…life is hard, but at the same time declaring that we have an anchor of hope in Jesus and that our story can still encourage and bring glory to God...especially in the struggle. So that’s what I’m going to do.
I want you to know up front that I don’t consider myself to be an expert on any particular area of life and I won’t act like I have all the answers, because I don’t. The one thing I do feel like I can talk about with confidence though is change and our ability to do it well. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about my own struggles with adjusting to my current situation. At the end of that conversation, he told me that he would be praying that we would find our new normal as a family. Over the next few days, that prayer began to sink into my heart as I thought about all the times my life had changed. The hardest part wasn’t the change necessarily, instead it was learning how to adjust to that change.
How we choose to adjust to our new normal will impact our perspective and ultimately our life.
If it’s ok with you, I would like to share why I believe that…
When I met Lyndsie for the first time at the age of 15, I experienced something new…love. I had no idea at the time just how much that love would change my life.
As Lyndsie and I dated, we began to come up with our own idea of what our future held. We both agreed that it should include a nice house with one of those white picket fences in front and a several well-mannered children. It wasn’t long before we found out that life is rarely that predictable or simple. Our new normal came in the form of Lyndsie being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 19 and again at 21.
In both situations, we were forced to process news that we were not prepared to receive and we had to decide how we would respond. Cancer had robbed Lyndsie of her perfect health and destroyed our idea of a perfect family. Nothing about that season was easy or natural, especially for a young dating couple like us. Life was very overwhelming during that time so we tried to keep it simple and go with what we knew to be true….we were meant for each other and we would trust in God’s plan instead of our own.
In the following years, Lyndsie and I found ourselves transitioning into so many new seasons of life...
We encountered many mountaintop and valley moments over those years and we held each other up through it all. We grew stronger, both in our relationship with each other and the Lord. We were a united front in every sense. We were each other’s comfort and safe place. She was my person and I was hers. We lived life fully and celebrated as many moments as possible because we understood the frailty of life and the gift we had been given in each other. And when the hard times came, we faced them together, with unity and faith in God.
For us, new was expected and normal.
Those years of having my beautiful wife by my side and raising our two children together were filled with some of the most amazing moments of my life. I learned so much about myself and Lyndsie and all of it made me fall more in love with her. I loved where we were as a family. It felt so much more meaningful and rewarding than that house with the fence dream.
Today though, I find myself in a place that I never thought I would be - grieving the loss of my beautiful wife and trying my best to raise our two children. I have never experienced more pain and brokenness than I have these past 475 days. I have wept when I thought about all the days and nights that she courageously battled for herself and for everyone who loved her. I have cried out to God for answers and I have just grieved the love of my life not being here with me. We were supposed to raise our children together and grow old together. We were supposed to keep highlighting each other’s strengths and compensated for each other’s weaknesses. She was supposed to be here to remember what I forgot and I was supposed to make everything better for her. But now, I find myself without her and there are so many things about my new normal that do not look familiar.
So the question I’m faced with is what am I going to do? How will I respond to being in a situation that I never wanted to be in? What will I do now without the love of my life by my side? My honest answer is: I don’t really know yet. Thinking about the future still overwhelms to me right now. I know I’ll still have hard days and I won’t get all it all right so I’m choosing to focus on a few simple things that I know to be true right now. First, I am responsible for raising our children well and nurturing the love they have for their momma in a way that is healthy and healing. And second, I know that I will take the life-changing lessons I have learned through Lyndsie and use them to encourage others who may be struggling with their own changes.
I had a front row seat to Lyndsie’s life and I saw her live fully, love deeply and lift the name of Jesus in her life and in her death. I saw purpose in the way she lived and loved and I can’t help but continue lifting that purpose above my pain.
Her life doesn’t still shine bright because of who she was…our best attempts to shine on our own fade quickly. Her life still shines bright because she reflected the love of Jesus and that’s something that will never fade away.
So if you are struggling with where you are right now or know someone who is, I pray that what I share will encourage you, comfort you and help you find your new normal.
P.S. Happy Birthday Baby! You're the one who showed me how to do this blogging thing all those years ago and I still remember how you would get so excited about it. I finally understand your excitement now!! I’ll never get over the way you rescued my life with your love. I miss you…