With Singapore celebrating its national day today, I’ve been thinking about the days we remember, the ones that change the course of our lives. We all have them. Bestie galpal Ellen remembers Singapore’s national day as the day, four years ago today, that she met her now-husband. It was a life-changing day for her.
We all have those days, the ones that stand out to us on a calendar. Not because they are a ‘usual’ landmark, like a birthday, but because we remember such a day as the anniversary of a life-changing event. Usually involving the loss or gain of something significant to us.
It could be the day we started our first job, and 5 years later we’re seeing the world on the company dime. Or the day we sat in a bus in London and a nice guy sat next to us, then a year later he’s proposed and 40 years later we’re still happily married after a wonderful life together. Or the day our first child took their first steps. Or the day we moved into our first home. Or the day we got our heart broken for the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth time. Or the day a loved one died. There are also some ‘collective’ days we remember in history. Like the 4th of July. Or the 11th of September.
Those days stand out to us because they are landmarks, and they change us in some way. For better or for worse.
I must confess that today, it’s one of those days for me. Although this one isn’t a ‘year’ mark. It’s a 6 month mark. 6 months ago today, exactly 26 Thursdays ago, something happened that changed the course of my life. A decision was made by another person to whom I had begun to link my life and heart, someone for whom I had made a monumental out-of-character leap-of-faith decision to move halfway across the planet to be closer to. But the decision made on that day was a decision by him, to break that link to me and pursue a relationship with someone else. It was a decision to break my heart. It was totally out of my control. Yet it changed the course of my life.
I didn’t choose it. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t want it. And I know, I didn’t deserve it. I actually don’t think I’ve loved anyone quite the way I loved this person. And I bear him no ill will at all. I only ever wanted the best for him and I still do. But we are no longer, we never really were and we never will be. It’s done. That in itself has been quite a journey, the recovery process and getting to that point.
And yet still – perhaps naively given my 41 years – I persist upon living in the hope that one day, I will be found by someone who sees me, who lets me be me, and who will love all of me – in my weaknesses as well as my strengths.
But here’s the thing. In the 182 days since that life-changing day, a lot has happened.
182 days ago, I had just been cast aside by a man who I’d moved my life across the planet for 3 days earlier. I had moved back to a country I honestly wasn’t ready to move back to in the name of what I had thought was the possibility of true love, but I was mistaken. I had no job. I had no car. I had no busy social life and wide circle of good friends like I’d had in Singapore. Most of my emotional support network was in Singapore, and I’d just been separated from them. It was 5 days before Valentines day. It was like the plot of a really bad rom-com, but without the happy ending. It was the perfect storm. I had been reduced, quite literally, to having nothing.
I was at ground zero. This was my very own personal 9/11, so to speak.
So in the last 182 days, I’ve been slowly rebuilding my life. Putting one foot in front of the other. As one of my favourite authors Elisabeth Elliot writes, ‘do the next thing’.
In typical corporate-girl fashion, I set out to stabilise the instability, to normalise. To do the next thing. Simple things first. The basics. I bought a car. I started consulting on contract. I’ve joined a good church in Auckland. I have reconnected with old friends. I am slowly starting to form new friendships. I’ve started volunteering with an organization that helps and encourages young women. I’ve started writing again. I’ve been scouted and signed, quite randomly, by a modeling agency, at the ripe old age of 41. And I’ve had my derrière fully featured in all its hula-hipped Polynesian glory on national television promoting jeans! Now that really is the plot of a bad rom-com!
But those are just externals. They’re new and interesting and some are a bit entertaining, but they are externals.
What’s been really interesting for me, is what has happened on the inside.
In the face of a situation that could have driven me away from God in bitterness and disillusionment, the reverse has happened. God has been my source of strength and comfort, an ever present help in a time of trouble. And I know now, more than ever, how incredibly faithful God is and how very much He loves me.
And I know now, more than ever, that when I think I have nothing left, I have all I need in Him.
That when a person tells me they don’t appreciate the things about me that make me who I am, God tells me that I am the apple of His eye and that He loves me with an everlasting love.
That when I think life has dealt me a fatal, heart-crushing blow and I have no strength left to keep going, God tells me that His grace is sufficient and that His strength is made perfect even in my weakness. And then He scoops me into His arms, kisses me gently on the forehead like the loving Father that He is, and He and carries me through the toughest of times.
That God has never, never, never left me throughout all this time. He said that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us. He says it right there, in Hebrews.
And I can honestly say, that when God says something, it’s always, always, always true.
So, today marks 6 months since a life-changing day. That day, it changed me. But instead of letting it change me for the worse as it so easily could have, I have chosen – and every day I still choose, by the grace of God – to make sure it’s changing me for the better.