My focus is on me and my circumstances instead of on Him where it should be. My guard is down and that’s when the enemy hits me with everything he’s got. He uses heavy artillery of accusations, guilt, and shame. And I just stand there and take it. As the words pierce my weakened armor I start to believe his lies. “Danielle, you are a failure! …You are so stupid!…Why do you keep messing up?…How could you let this happen?…You are a horrible mother!” Self-doubt and self-loathing bring tears to my eyes and I tell God, “I think You chose wrong. I should have been the one to die, Ash would have handled the finances so much better than me. I’m just making a mess of it all.”
It’s been two and a half years since the sudden death of my husband and it hasn’t been an easy gig being thrown into the role of a single mom to seven kids. I never thought my life would have turned out this way. That one second we are this happy family and the next I am pleading to God to not take my husband from me. Me and Ash met over twenty years ago in our high school youth group at church. I knew the moment I met him that this was my husband. We were married a few years later. I was nineteen and he was twenty, we were babies. And then we began to have babies, a lot of them! We never planned on a large family, we only had ever talked about three, maybe four. But my husband was a baby guy, you could always find him holding a baby. Our babies, friend’s babies, he’d coo at babies in the mall. I’d say, “Babe, people are gonna think you’re a creeper, don’t go up to random people.” He was crazy about babies! When I would tell him we were pregnant again, he would smile and say, “What’s one more?”
We had a happy imperfect marriage and were just shy of our seventeenth anniversary. The kids and Ash were my everything, so much so that I lost a huge part of myself, I let them become my identity. Ash took excellent care of us, he took care of the bills and the home maintenance and was our sole provider financially. I took for granted that he would always be here so I never bothered to learn how to do any of those things. It would be to my detriment. The day I found Ash on the floor not breathing was the day my world shattered into pieces. I literally had talked to him minutes before. The saying that your life can change in the blink of an eye is my reality. As the doctors were telling me that he was dead both sides of my brain were working separately. The emotional part was grieving and screaming over my oldest son, who was with me at the hospital, how much his dad loved him. And the logical side was trying to figure out how I was going to support my family. The experience was surreal. I have learned a lot of hard lessons and have messed up a lot. In those early days, I was fumbling through just trying to figure out my bills and what kind of schedule my husband had for paying them. I got notices that my water was going to be turned off and past due letters. I went through a lot of growing pains in that first year. It was very tough on me.
Now two and a half years later most days we are doing really well emotionally and spiritually but grief hits you at times when you least expect it. Some days I feel as I if I’ve got it all together but most of the time I am a hot mess and my mind is constantly running on all cylinders. Before Ash died I would lie in bed for hours thinking and waiting to fall asleep, now when my head hits the pillow I am out cold. People ask me how I’m doing and I always say that I’m doing good or that I’m hanging in there and it’s true. But my insecurities are always lying just beneath my smile. I figured it was going to be difficult being a single parent but I could have never grasped how excruciatingly painful the emotional and mental battle would be. I am constantly second-guessing my decisions and beating myself up for my mistakes. It is a breeding ground for spiritual warfare and if I’m being honest I am a constant victim. The enemy knows my weaknesses and his aim always hits his target. And man the hits just keep coming. It isn’t until I’m bruised and bloodied and I just can’t take anymore that I finally surrender. I cry out, “Jesus I need You, please come save me.”
Amidst the chaos, I feel a gentle hand lift my chin up to gaze into loving eyes and I feel seen. He has positioned Himself between me and my attacker, blocking the blows. His voice is loving but firm, “I have chosen you, Danielle, I don’t make mistakes. But you cannot win this battle without me, I alone will give you the strength you need. You will have victory in Me.” He helps me to stand, He brushes off the dirt and bandages my wounds. He stands back to look at me and says, “My daughter, you are beautiful.” He takes ahold of my right hand and guides me through the battle unharmed.
The sad truth is that I will probably end up in this same situation again and again. The enemy is so good at what he does, but my God is better. Only with His strength can I be quick to block the blows and fight back. My eyes fixed on Him and not what is going on around me. It’s when I take my eyes off of Him that I doubt my God-given abilities and strengths, well let’s be completely real I doubt that God knows what He is doing! Trusting that He has chosen me for a purpose and that part of His plan is for me to continue to raise these kids on my own is tough to wrestle with at times. And tougher still, He chose me with all of my weaknesses and crap! But the beauty is that because of my weaknesses He will shine all that much brighter. That the glory will all go to Him. I am absolutely the perfect person for the job because of my weaknesses. Poor money manager, I’m your girl! Selfish and prideful, you’re looking at her right here! Who has two thumbs and is probably going to cause their kids to go through years of therapy because of them, this girl! And you know what He looks at me and gives me a plaque that says “World’s Best Mom”. It is so backward to what the world tells us but it is the absolute truth!
As I think about all that I am doing in this life, what is it I am truly fighting for and want you all to know? It is this, that my story is all for His glory. I don’t want you to see me and my strength and how I am conquering my fears. I want you to see Him carrying me through the muck and the mire. He is the real hero in this tragedy! He is the one going into enemy territory for me, a fallen soldier who has gone A-WALL at times and has been a traitor and taken the enemy’s side and flat out disregarded his authority. And still, He rescues me! I was not chosen because of my abilities and talents but because of how He is using me in spite of my weaknesses. The enemy will be blindsided by it, he won’t know what hit him. And then he will begin to tremble at the sound of Lord’s battle cry.