On a Serious Note

Wait.

Okay. I just had to get that out of my system.

I’m obsessed with zombie apocalypses, ever since I watched “Night of the Living Dead” at the tender age of 22. You might think it’s funny, but I was–still am–terrified of having my flesh ripped apart. Plus, I don’t think I’d do very well hiding out with 5 strangers in a small, eerily lit basement.

I should can more.

And, okay. You got me–I am addicted to laughing. I love to laugh. I love to watch other people laugh. It gives me such a high. I love funny stuff. So, it’s no wonder that I try to sneak in a joke in even the most serious conversations, if I’m even invited to be involved in a serious conversation in the first place. I can’t help it–I know it’s an obnoxious habit, but I’m always looking for the funny. Unless of course, someone is dead.

No one is dead today (that I know of), but I’m going to ditch my sarcastic sense of humor for a minute to confess this: I’m genuinely upset. I had a really perfect opportunity to share my faith with someone this past month, and I botched it. This person point-blank asked me: “Why are you guys going to church so much, and what exactly is it doing for you?” I was surprised by the seriousness of the subject and by the desperately needing tone with which it was brought up. I stammered, I searched for words, I beat around the bush with a flimsy version of my backstory…and before I could make progress on spitting out any real answer, the moment had passed. And now, I feel that they could have been way better served by my cutting to the chase than by my making jokes and trying not to offend.

Truth is, I’ve been wanting to talk to this person for a long, long time. I want to talk to everyone; I want to tell all of you, I want so much to be able to convey just how deeply having Jesus in my life has affected me, my family, the choices we make now, the paths we choose. I wish I could find the words to make people feel exactly like I feel–except I can’t even begin to describe it to myself. Peaceful? Calm? Grateful? Loved? Loving? Relieved? Patient? They’re just words. How can you sum up such powerful emotions into a limited combination of letters and syllables?

I want to say these things without coming off as hokey or cliché, and I know I can only achieve that with a small handful of people. So I’m just going to type without thinking. (Like that’s different from any other day.)

I wish you guys were flies on the wall in my house when my husband and I drank like fish every night. I wish you were here to see us both lose our tempers. I wish you could have seen me the night I made a hole in my closet door. I wish you were here when I was a stark-raving bipolar maniac who would fly off the handle over nothing at all. I wish you had been sitting in the chair by my bed on the days when I couldn’t get out of it and I couldn’t stop crying. I wish you could have known me, the way I used to be.

I’m not high and mighty now. I’m humble and grateful and still very much in just…awe…of changes that occurred magically, overnight–and of the really tough changes that took place over the course of the last 2 years. I’m likin’ the peace levels around here. God is so faithful to us.

When I could think of nothing else to do, I prayed for strength. I prayed for a passion. I prayed for my marriage, I prayed for my children. And I prayed for a baby.

God sent strength to me. He gave me a sense of inner peace and calm, and supplied me with a local support system (our church family) that would make Secret Service Agents look like clueless weaklings. He brought me to a bible study that grabbed my attention and got my wheels  turning. He led me to other women that inspired me and encouraged me. He showed me verse after verse, chapter after chapter, of ways to make me function better as a wife, as a mother, and as a person.

In July of last year I found out I was pregnant. Yay! Another answered prayer. I can’t remember feeling that ecstatic over anything else in my whole life. Another baby! This time I was going to do it right. I was back in God’s good graces and He had blessed me and it was my mission to raise this kid all up in the church.

In less than 2 weeks, that baby was gone.

In the time that followed that, I loved on my children like I never had before. My husband, who in the past would’ve lost himself in sorrow and alcohol for weeks on end, supported me and cried with me and remained so strong and faithful that it brings tears in my eyes to this day. (Sidenote: my husband’s story is not mine to tell, but if you can ever get it out of him–the gritty, unedited version–you will be blown away. It’s 100 times more intense than anything I have to say. When I look at that man, my heart bursts with pride and happiness. I could not possibly love him more.)

What would have torn us apart in another life brought us together closer than any two people were meant to be. Our friends and family  helped us more than I’ll ever be able to say. That summer, my faith and trust in God went from just-okay, to beyond-great. By way of horrible hardship, God gave me everything I had initially asked for, and then some.

The thing that gets me the most about my relationship with Jesus is that I have a purpose. I’m not just pointlessly floundering around by myself down here on Earth, waiting for a sign from someone–anyone–when I’m lost and running on empty . There are things that I’ve been through and that my family has been through that I didn’t “get” or like at the time; it is only by looking back that I could see the miraculous chain of events that led us to this place–right here, right now, in small town Oklahoma, living a life I would never have chosen on my own.

What a suweet life it is.

I still have questions. I still don’t understand a lot of things. I still get mad and I still wish I could have my way when it comes to the stuff I want to do vs. what I know God is commanding me to do. I still have selfish moments, hypocritical moments, and ego-maniacal moments.

People are not perfect and we are all sinning fools. God’s not happy with us in those times, but He loves us–all–and His plan for our lives is much better than anything we could come up with. Following Him doesn’t guarantee our happiness. But I can promise you–and I know this for a fact–that you’ll have all the strength and love you need to face whatever crazy crap this world throws at you.

So, whether we’re contemplating suicide while we’re hiding from flesh-hungry zombies, or coming up with ways to welcome our new Alien overlords (I’m sorry; I had to), we are God’s children. And when you put your faith and trust in Him, He will never leave you.

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About Toni

Mom. Wife. Artist. I take care of the kids and pretend to clean sometimes. I can cook spagetti and I have never been arrested. View all posts by Toni

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