Last week was the first time in over a year I’ve gotten up on stage to speak and share my family’s story. For me, the experience of losing my husband and becoming a single mom has only set in recently, so it’s been a completely different experience sharing my story in public these days. When I started speaking right after Andrew passed away it was almost like I was sharing someone else’s story because I felt almost detached from the experience. I have only recently learned I felt that way because I was in a season of denial, which is part of the grieving process.
Now that it’s been a little over two years since Andrew passed away and I’m working through the depression and acceptance stage of grief, I feel immersed in the story as the pain of every word that I speak plays out like a home movie in my mind. Before going on stage I literally asked God to help me make it through the talk without losing it completely. I always want to feel my story, but sometimes the agony of reliving those days is so emotionally heavy that I want to retreat for days after an event.
Even though it was emotionally taxing, I was proud of myself for giving it my best effort. After speaking, I realized what I chose to share was pretty heavy stuff. I was afraid I had just left the audience with a sad story and then threw a pity party for myself, which is the opposite of what I wanted to accomplish and the opposite reason of why I feel called to share our story. This fear ignited a fire in my heart to identify a deeper message in the midst of the tragedy, to empower and inspire with the purpose of bringing hope and motivation to transform people’s lives.
It’s a delicate balance between the fact that sharing what happened to our family is sad and that there is so much inspiration and empowerment that has come from this occurrence. I feel like I’ve been given this journey for a reason and that it is extremely important for me to dig deep to find out the best way to clearly communicate the empowering messages I know are there to awaken positive change in the world. I’m on a mission over the next couple of weeks before my next speaking event to articulate with specificity the message I am meant to share. I’m re-reading A Gray Faith this week to better connect the heart of Andrew’s messages with the heart of my messages from this experience.
I’m on this exciting and, at times, confusing, journey of self-discovery. It has required much flexibility and patience (both of which do not come naturally to me) as I try new things and share new thoughts to see what works and what doesn’t as I grow from both failure and success. We’ve each been given such unique stories and life experiences. I encourage you to take some time this week to think about the important lessons you’ve learned from the most difficult things you’ve gone through. Then, write them down and share them via blog, journal, email, small group, etc., because you’ve been given these experiences for a reason and a purpose and it’s meant to connect us and to inspire hope and courage in the hearts of others going through similar challenges.
I continue to find so much freedom in being vulnerable and sharing my trials because it’s given me so much purpose, meaning, and healing to know that God can use my family’s story to touch the lives of others in a positive way. Thank you for listening to my heart. I appreciate you spending time with me today. Sending you lots of love! Blessings.
P.S. To order your signed copies of A Gray Faith and The Ellie Project go to http://www.ellieproject.com/collections/book Truly appreciate your support!