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With Gratitude

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“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” Genesis 28:16

Have you ever lived through a deep and long, lonely battle?  I’m laughing right now, after I finished typing that sentence, because it’s so absurd to ask.  Who here on earth hasn’t lived through a long lonely battle of some kind, right?

I’ll tell you a little about one of mine.

There is a beautiful woman in my life.  She became part of my life package the day I got married.  She’s my sister-in-law, Lindsay.  We hit it off right away, had the same sense of humor, same taste in music, same age, same stage in life.  In fact she got married less than a month before my husband and I.  We had babies at the same time, we were poor newlywed young mothers together, and we had a lot of good times taking our babies for walks at the cemetery near where we lived.  Though we have lots of similarities, we are very different too.  I’m a private introvert who likes to read and ponder life, she is an outgoing life-of-the-party type who usually has no problem sharing her true thoughts and feelings.  Years flew by, and the two of us always looked at each other and kind of made assumptions about the life and marriage of the other.  We were friends, and had flashes of genuine connection at times, but she moved to another town, we each had different lives, and the whirlwind of raising kids and all the busy-ness weakened that connection, though we were always still friendly.

One time, she said something that ticked me off.  For all kinds of reasons, for years I had been walking into the relationship with my in-laws carrying a feeling of being less.  This comment confirmed all my fears, and The Destroyer whispered to me: “You will never be a real part of this family.  The women in this family think they are so much better than you.  They think you are a witch.  They are so much better at making a home than you, you will never live up to their standards, and you will never be a part of their inner circle.  They’re always leaving you out.”  And you know what, my friends?  I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  I agreed with all those statements, took them into my heart, nurtured and fed them, and acted on them.  For almost a year.  I damaged relationships, fed bitterness, hurt people, and confused them with my silent, angry attitude.  Always one to face a situation head on, one day Lindsay called and was like; “Clearly something is not right.  I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to make you so upset.”  My heart softened up, I was able to be nicer, she forgave me, and our friendship returned.

By this time, it had been about 14 years since we were both married, if I’m remembering right.  In all of those fourteen years, I had been tossed around and beat up by a private, painful, traumatizing struggle.  I lived for years in a lonely walk of oppression and silence.  I don’t mean to say that every moment of my life was painful, but just that I had been battling the same issue in loneliness and in silence.  No one knew.

I will never forget the day that Lindsay and I both found out that we battled the same life problem.  My sisters, she had been on a parallel path with me for the same fourteen years, and neither one of us knew it.  Her heartaches were mine, my frustrations, my agonies, my confusion and pain, were mirrored in her own heart.  She knew all about them, because she had lived through the same lonely war.  In the last couple of years since we have made this discovery, we have pulled each other through dark trenches of war, trying to drag each other into the light and point each other to God.   She has let me lean on her through many a crisis.  We were always friends, but now we are sisters.

“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.”

My loving God was always in that place, and I knew it not.  He gave me a sister who fully understood my path, and my fears.  Someone to strengthen me and understand me.  With deep gratitude I reflect on the massive miracle that this is.  The miracle that sisterhood can be.

In this week of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for the faithful, soul strengthening women in my life who give time, give strength, and give life.  When we reject the lies of The Enemy, and listen for the voice of God in our relationships with other women, oh the power that exists there.  My prayer is that on our long paths, when it seems that no one is there, when we seem to be the only woman on the road, when our souls are sore and we do not feel heard or understood, we will be led to a place on the other side where we will rejoice and say “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not”.

Here is a little Thanksgiving video that doesn’t have much to do with my message, but I love it.  Happy Thanksgiving, my sisters.

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