I’m not sure if my recent deep thoughts really fit the theme of this blog or even if the theme of this blog needs to change again.  What I do know is that I have been having deep thoughts and that I want to pen them somewhere.

I think what started the deep thought process this time was my recent experience of taking career planning workshops at the Employment Resource Centre.  I haven’t worked outside the home for almost fourteen years and yet I found that I had as many skills, if not more than, a lot of the people participating that week.  I had a great time taking assessments, adding to group discussions, volunteering to be the recorder and/or speaker for group exercises and even being honest about my complete ignorance on certain subjects.  I kind of marveled at myself because I haven’t always been this way.

Before Louis died, I was very much like a tiny plant growing in the shade of a mighty oak tree.  Louis was strong and shielded me from a lot.  I liked that place very much.  When Louis breathed his last, it was like my mighty oak had been hacked down and for the first time I was exposed to the glaring sun, the bitter winds and the storms of life.  I felt entirely too weak for it all and hated it.

To me, Louis’ death seemed to push me into a dark tunnel.  That place was extremely uncomfortable and scary and everything in me wanted out.  To my dismay, I found there was no going back.  That way was blocked.  There was only going forward and the way was steep.  I wasn’t sure if the tunnel ever ended.  I certainly couldn’t see any light at the end.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted to come out the other end.  What would be waiting for me there?  I wanted to stay close to the place I had enjoyed so much.  I pleaded with God for another oak tree to replace the one that had been taken.  My prayers just seemed to bounce around the tunnel I felt I was in.  It was lonely in there and I didn’t know how to navigate my way.

Something must have happened to me while blundering through that tunnel.  I felt like I was losing my faith.  I felt like I was exhausted.  I felt angry and hurt and wondered what the purpose of the tunnel was.  It wasn’t obvious to me.  It was just hard – day-in and day-out hard.

Somewhere in that dark place I found my voice and became stronger.  Before being forced into it, I had been something of a doormat.  I didn’t have opinions of my own.  I let other people decide and went along with their plans.  Louis was the chief decider in my life.  He was good at it and I was happy under his guidance.  Without him, I suddenly had to decide.  I had to sell the house.  I had to move to another province.  I had to decide how to invest the money.  I had to plan the funeral.  I had to fight the insurance company that refused my claim.  I had to do a lot of things that I didn’t know how to do.  I felt completely inadequate and just did the best I could.  Somehow a lot of my decisions, made so timidly, turned out to be good ones.  I was pressed to go beyond what I felt I could and that made me grow stronger.

The early decision making led to being more courageous.  I’ve always been fearful of making mistakes which made it very easy for me to just let others decide.  My biggest not-so-popular decision was to homeschool.  I never could have made that decision had I not had the experience of making unsure decisions while in the tunnel and having things turn out alright.  Homeschooling turned out to be a very positive experience.  The boys flourished and so did I.  I found myself even teaching other children at a co-op, writing articles for a local homeschool newsletter and starting a blog.  I went from being shy and opinionless to confidently speaking in public.  I didn’t realize this while in my tunnel.  I didn’t have any sense that these changes were taking place.  I was very focused on the difficulty of the journey and couldn’t see that I was being changed by those difficulties.   The glaring sun, the bitter winds and the fierce storms were making the little once-sheltered plant into a growing plant.

I think that I have come out of the dark tunnel now.  DA had something to do with that.  He saw things in me and said things about me that astounded me.  I was still picturing myself as the weak little plant that I had been in the shade of the mighty oak.  He was seeing me as the strong plant that I had become from enduring the tunnel.  His perspective of me was validated at the career planning workshops.  When fellow participants needed help, they often turned to me.  I helped them navigate the computer programs.  I helped them figure out the grading scheme for some of the assessments.  I became the spokesperson and recorder for some of the group projects.  I was confident.  I could do things.  People looked to me.

Some of the computer tools we used spewed out possible job fits for us.  Two of the occupations that popped up for me were bereavement counselor and funeral director.  Seeing that was kind of a light-bulb moment for me.  I’ve always wanted my experience of loss to count for something.

A few years ago, I met a woman whose husband left her while she was struggling with cancer.  She recovered physically but her marriage didn’t.  He filed for divorce and she found herself going through something she never wanted to.  She raised her children on her own, went back to school, became a pastor and now runs a very popular divorce care program and single parent program in a large church.  She took her negative experience and is using it to help many people.  Lots of non-Christians come to church for the first time because of these programs.  She’s probably led hundreds to Christ because of what she is doing.  Is she happy that she walked through divorce?  No.  She wanted her marriage saved.  Is she taking the lemons that were handed to her and making lemonade with them?  Absolutely.

A few months ago, I read of a woman who was engaged to be married and as such received cards and gifts from friends and family.  Her fiance backed out and she found herself wanting to send cards to the people who gave her stuff explaining what had happened.  There was a complete void in the card market for her situation.  Rather than sitting down and crying, she developed a card and went on to market it and several others for people in less-than-happy situations.  Her cards took off and she’s made a lucrative business of it and has even been featured on Oprah.  She took her heartbreak and did something with it.  I look up to people like this and aspire to be like that myself.

Having emerged from my tunnel, I find myself on higher ground.  I’m looking around and seeing that anything is possible.  A seed has been planted in me.  I want to help others work their way through their own tunnels.  I want them to see that it’s possible and to know that something good can come of it.  A lot depends on the choices they make while in the tunnel.  I’d like to encourage people and see them come through stronger as a result of the journey.  This dream is just at the seed stage but I know that if seeds are nurtured and properly cared for they can grow.  It may take time but I do hope to see this be more than just a light-bulb idea.  I want to see it realized.  I now know that I can do it and that I can do it well.

God works in mysterious ways.  He uses the most unlikely things to form us and direct us.  I’m not sure why I signed up for those workshops.  I’m not sure why things have turned out the way they have.  What I’m seeing more and more is that God knows.  I feel like I’m blundering along and accidently stumbling across things but I think I’m being guided like a sheep before its shepherd.  The Shepherd has a plan and is executing it perfectly according to His timing.  He’s been forming me all the time I’ve been complaining and whining about not understanding.  He’ll get me to where He wants me to be whether I understand the path or not.  He doesn’t expect the sheep to be smart and figure it all out.  He wants the sheep to trust Him and obey Him.  Maybe there’s hope for this little sheep/plant after all.  She’s finally cluing in a bit.  That’s got to be a beautiful thing.