|Cocoa Beach, Florida~ where we have been lucky enough to enjoy our dream vacation!|
We are halfway through a fabulous family vacation in Florida. This is honestly the best time we have ever had in our lives. We have been spending our days with no work or agendas but instead swimming in the ocean, walking along the beach and picking up seashells with my son, lounging by the pool, and taking in the amazing sights of God's unique creatures (the peacocks running around our subdivision, the crabs on the beach, and the geckos on the porch) while staying in a beautiful condo. I honestly could not ask for a better vacation. And this vacation is so meaningful to me, because it's one I was supposed to take years ago that was stolen from me. It's one I never thought I'd have the chance to take again.
In 2008, I was scheduled to go to Orlando with my sons and parents. My very generous uncle had offered to pay for the entire trip- a week at Disney world, the hotel rooms, food, and airplane tickets. I was so elated to have the chance to go, because it's something I could have never afforded to do on my own. Something I would never be able to offer my children. Something that my parents were never able to offer me. This was my one and only shoot to go on a real vacation- the kind you hear "normal" people talk about.
God knows I needed normalcy very badly at that point in my life. I was at the lowest point of my addiction, and under the influence of SOMETHING 24 hours a day. I was close to death, and needed something to make my life worth living. This trip to Florida was able to excite me enough to want to be alive to see it.
The plane tickets to Florida were bought, and we were all set to go. Then, on THIS EXACT DAY seven years ago- May 23RD 2008, right before I was set to leave for Florida, I woke up to find my fiance dead. Not just dead, but dead in the most horrific way possible. I woke up and he wasn't in bed with me, so I walked around the house trying to find him. I noticed a sliver of light coming from the basement- a place we never went. I walked down stairs towards the light, and saw a sight my brain really couldn't comprehend.
It looked like he was standing on his tippytoes. I called to him and asked what he was doing and told him he was late for work. I walked closer to him, talking to him the entire time. He looked odd, and wasn't moving. As I got closer, I realized that his tounge was hanging out the side of his mouth. That was odd... I walked closer and closer, talking to him the entire way, until I was standing right next to him. I reached my hand out and touched his face- which was ice cold and rock hard. He was dead. Very dead. He had hung himself from the rafters in the middle of the night- a tortured soul who could see no way out of the hell of addiction that we were both trapped in.
That was a turning point in my life. I was so heartbroken, so traumatized, and so hopeless, that I plunged even deeper into my addiction. I became suicidal myself, to the point that I had to check into a psychiatric ward. The one person who had ever truly loved me was gone, and to make it worse, he CHOSE to leave. Ultimately though, his leaving up opened up the door for me to find God. I was in so much emotional pain that the drugs and alcohol couldn't numb it anymore. I would later end up so desperate that I would decide to try the God thing. But it was a long, painful journey.
So, as I sat in the psych ward mourning the loss of my fiance and struggling to fight he images of his dead body in my head, my family left and went to Florida. My sister took my place, and they all went to Disneyworld. I obviously wasn't in any kind of shape to go on vacation, but I can remember being so heartbroken and feeling so forgotten. I felt like I had been robbed of so much by his suicide and our addictions. I wondered how my family could enjoy being at the happiest place on earth while I sat in a psych ward wanting to end my life. I realized that while my life had ended, everyone else's carried on. I had nobody. And certainly I would never have anyone who cared again, because I was beyond damaged. I was damaged before his death, but this took it to a whole new level.
Obviously I didn't want my kids to miss going to Disneyworld. But I can very vividly remember wondering why God hated me so much. Why did this have to happen now? Why didn't I deserve anything good in my life, ever? My one shot of having a decent vacation was ripped away from me, just like my future with the man I loved. I didn't get it. Why couldn't I get a break?
When I was released from the psych ward, I was greeted by no one. The loneliness was deafening. I plunged straight back into my addiction full force. Eventually, I ended up at Milwaukee victory church where God changed my life. But it was hard. That was without a doubt the most devestating time in my life. But God had a plan, and little did I know then that he would work everything I was going through for my good.
I know now that it wasn't God who was withholding things from me. My addiction stole every good thing in my life. Satan came to kill, steal, and destroy, and he was doing that all through the access he had to my life through my addiction. Not only did he want me miserable, enslaved, and hopeless, but he wanted me dead. Just like my fiance.
I write this now, seven years to the day that my life changed forever, as I am in our car traveling to Orlando with my beautiful family. My husband- the man God knew I needed- and our beautiful new son. A son who wouldn't be here right now if my fiance from 2008 didn't kill himself, and if I wouldn't have taken my broken heart and given it to God. We are traveling to the exact spot of the vacation I was supposed to go on years ago that was stolen from me. A vacation I thought was irreplaceable and lost forever.
God is in the restoration and redemption business. The bible says that he will restore everything that was lost, and redeem the years the locust have eaten. And I am seeing that truth lived out. That's not to say that we should expect God to necessarily give us monetary things, though he may, he is much more interested on redeeming our hearts and letting us know how precious we are to him. God knew that my heart had never fully healed from that lost vacation and the circumstances that surrounded it. Though I no longer think about it much, it was still a sore spot in my heart, one that God wanted to heal and make right.
He used this vacation- a vacation I never expected to be on- to remind me that he is the God who sees, the God who knows, and the God who cares. Every hurt, and every detail of my life matters to him. When I start to doubt that, he shows me in the most unexpected ways just how much he loves me. And he reminds me that no matter how much the devil has stolen, he has the power to restore it all. No one has ever made too many mistakes or wandered too far for God to give you a glorious future right where you are if you give your life to him.
So for me, this is so much more than a vacation. This is testament to how good God is, and how he can take trials and turn him into triumphs and messes into messages for his glory. I am deserving of none of it, and I am grateful that he loves me immensely despite all of my imperfections. It brings to remembrance just how far he's brought me, and that he was there right by my side through it all. He loved me at my darkest. And he has given me new memories to associate with May 23 RD. Instead of it being a day of Sadness, it will now be remembered as a day of redemption. A date of pain is now a date of awe. That I am the daughter of a God who wants to heal my hurts- even if it takes a Florida vacation to do it.
No matter what is going on in your life, remember that God is good. Even In the horrible moments, there is a plan, and he is there. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to find Mickey mouse =)