The tears were abundant that hot August day. I was sure most of our extended family could see me cry even as they played, laughed, and celebrated the impending arrival of a new baby in the family. It was a beautiful day and a happy occasion, yet the beauty and the joy were lost on me that day. Not just at the moment my husband drove away, leaving our children and me behind again – but all the day long leading up to that moment, as I knew the inevitable was almost upon us.
It was a familiar routine. Just one of many hundreds of times we slogged through the dreaded goodbye to see my husband off on his next business trip. You see my struggle was, for as often as my husband would leave, he was rarely home more than a day or two. Out of the course of a year, he was gone far more than he was home. One year he slept in his own bed just nine nights.
It all started the month I completed graduate school in 2006. That month also marked the beginning of a seven year period in our lives that would be like no other we had experienced in our five year old marriage. This was the beginning of “the traveling years” as they have now become known in our home. We never intended to enter those years of separation and uncertainty, but at the time it appeared the only choice we had. My husband experience a sudden job loss and when a position that required full-time travel was offered four long months later, we thankfully accepted it, believing it would only be temporary. We wanted it to be a “bridge job” just until we could find something else and get back on our feet. Instead what was supposed to be temporary ended up dragging on in various forms for over seven years.
Each passing year, my thoughts were consumed by a yearning for my husband to come home to our kids and me each night. To live that “normal life” it seemed everyone around me was living. However, things would get harder before they would ever get easier. God turned up the heat in the furnace of affliction.
December 2011 marked another unexpected job loss for the man who had been our sole provider. This marked the beginning of another extended season of waiting. God used that time to bring us to the end of ourselves. It was through our feelings of hopelessness and helplessness to change our situation, that the Lord made Himself known to us.
The discouragement I lived with for over seven years opened my eyes to the suffering of others all around me. Suffering is a very relative term, indeed I was acutely aware of how much worse things could be. However, that didn’t change the empty ache in my heart, as I felt weighed down by a near constant sense of loneliness. I was parenting alone more often than not, and almost always felt overwhelmed. This season started when our girls were barely four and six.
I would see the commercials on TV, advertising this or that depression medication, in which they ask whether you are experiencing sadness, etc. I would nod into nothingness, affirming the question from the TV in the empty room. I would be moved to tears by touching commercials on TV or by radio broadcasts like K-Love during which someone was sharing a moving story.
I didn’t really know what needing God meant until I had no other choice; I didn’t know what it meant until I had been so broken open that the tears would fall over every story I would hear of the brokenness of others.
Those are the moments that taught me God is not a distant symbol of love or a reason to do good deeds. No, He’s the very air we breathe. He’s the only one who can make it bearable, when life feels simply anything but.
To find more on my story, click here 🙂 Where do you turn when life feels unbearable? Is there any way that I can pray for you? Let’s chat in the comments!