Sooooo…here I am once again attempting to write for Single Mom Smiling, my blog begun in 2011. Maybe “attempting to write” should be exchanged for, “…attempting to write brazenly for Single Mom Smiling.”
Let me explain…
Single Mom Smiling was begun in the midst of trauma. In 2009, I was a SAHM and had just been made part time youth minister of our local Church when my husband of 14 years suddenly announced he was leaving making our little family another casualty of the infamous social media affair. It was something I might have read about but never would have thought could happen to us. I could not understand it, any of it. Yes, we had faced challenges. Yes, we had our issues. Yes, life and our Marriage had ups and downs.
But for him to pick up and leave?
It seemed so unreal.
To add to the trauma, I was also five months pregnant with our fifth little boy when my husband dropped his bombshell on our sweet little family. I had just had a PICC line removed and had just gotten off a home IV for pregnancy related medical issues. We thought the baby might have lifelong health concerns. I was exhausted and sick much of the pregnancy.
To make matters worse, I was told of his affair and intention to leave on May 10th 2009 – Mother’s Day.
This was also 13 years to the day after we had discovered we were losing our first child to what would later be diagnosed as an ectopic pregnancy. That pain was downplayed by my physician, and the ectopic pregnancy went undiagnosed for several weeks until it almost killed me.
May 10th will always be a day I mourn for the child who died so I might live.
There is too much to tell our entire story here, but I sometimes think the years following my husband’s decision were more a Lifetime fictional drama than our real life story.
But this was the life my husband chose to gift us with.
And two and a half years after sudden abandonment, I felt God call me to write about pain and the power and love He uniquely offers to those in our position.
Father of the fatherless, defender of widows —
God in his holy abode ~ Psalm 68:5
Fearful though, I wrote in secret while setting more public and less personal goals. These goals were respectable, admirable, and impossible to attain, or so I was told.
Yet, God was Good, and I was persistent.
I went on to achieve almost everything I set out to do.
With my elementary teaching license expired, I pursued a more marketable 7-12 math certification using a pathway I was told could not be done, but I trusted God and moved ahead. I focused on eliminating gaps through small steps toward big goals and refused to listen to naysayers, and, despite not being a “math person,” I obtained 60 college credits and that math certification.
At the same time, I landed a few part time jobs and began a tutoring business specializing in college prep tests such as the SAT and ACT. Before online teaching was a thing, I used online resources to tutor students in Europe and the Midwest. I taught high school equivalency courses for a local community college to individuals who had seen rough times and were, in middle age, trying to get on a better track.
I watched them struggle and counted my Blessings.
There was more too. Not long after my husband left, a woman I did not know appeared on my doorstep crying about her husband’s affair. She had heard our story in our small town and wanted me to tell her what to do about the devastation she was experiencing. At the time, I could not tell her anything. I hardly knew myself.
What I did know was that she would not be the last woman to need help. My marriage was the first to collapse in my circle of friends, but I knew the devil to be consistent rather than creative. This meant other attacks would be made on other friends and other Marriages. I vowed I would not leave these individuals alone. I researched life coaching, received my ICF certification from the Professional Christian Coaching Institute, and began working with single moms, wives in troubled Marriages, women in crisis pregnancy, and others from around the world who had exited trauma but were unsure of next steps.
I had a tremendous appreciation for living in America and the gift of freedom and opportunity given to me by God and the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. I never wanted to take that for granted. I knew my life and the lives of my five boys, would be very different if we had lived in other parts of the world. I researched and learned all I could from our nation’s Warriors. I chose to be trained by Green Berets and a Navy SEAl and learned through courses in Post Traumatic Growth. I respected the military community’s provision of brotherhood to its insiders.
I wanted to bring all of that to those I served.
I was on my way and felt like I was living God’s plan.
I was offered better and better jobs until I landed a great job in a great school district with great kids, great staff, great salary, great benefits, great everything.
I am now working at a job I love but also realizing that in getting goals I set out to attain, I lost track of what I originally felt God call me to. I got my dream job teaching math and think I am actually pretty good at it! I sure love those kids!!!
But the truth is, all the years I laughed while saying, “I am not a ‘math person,'” I never realized the statement stretched beyond being good with numbers.
The truth is, I am not called to be a “math person.” By being someone we are not, we deny who we are created to be. I knew that, and I still did that.
I am called to teach and coach and deliver power and strength and glory God offers us each day, even in our messes. I am called to celebrate who I am and the gifts I have been given!
I cannot do that by carrying shame for my testimony. I can only do that by living my testimony! For now, I can only do that through continuing my work as Single Mom Smiling.
The truth is, I had been running from Single Mom Smiling, ashamed of my Testimony.
My life is pretty dang good now, and I did not want to relive the trauma of where I was and who I had been. I wanted to help others but but not at the expense of sharing my testimony.
I wanted to hide, perhaps from myself most of all, my scars which provide road maps for those who will follow.
I do not know how much influence Satan had in my getting the great jobs that pulled me away from the gift of suffering Christ asked me to join Him in, but I realized with increasing clarity, that I need to get back to Single Mom Smiling to courageously live out my testimony.
Sunday’s reading from, 2 Timothy 1, gently yet firmly brings this point home:
I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.
So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord,
nor of me, a prisoner for his sake;
but bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.
Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me,
in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit
that dwells within us.
There it is, halfway through the first paragraph, “Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.”
All the checked boxes bringing me toward big goals, all the amazing people I had met, all the valuable training I had pursued, all the suffering I had hidden was nothing if I was conquered by the shame of my testimony.
As great as life was, I realized I was still running from who I am. I was living in fear of someone finding out about my past and my pain. I sought perfectionism so no one would see how little value I had in myself.
Worse, I was running from who God was calling me to be. I was ungrateful for the testimony that was not mine but the His in me.
I reflected on the word “shame” and felt God explain the opposite of “shame” is not pride as many think. Pride is too small a word, too selfish, too corrupt, to me-focused to conquer shame.
The opposite of shame is Honor.
Honoring testimony gives honor to struggle. It gives honor to goals set, amazing people met, valuable training pursued, and suffering no longer hidden nor apologized for.
Honor gives glory to testimony and to the One who creates our testimony.
No more running. No more hiding. No more avoiding. Not to anyone, especially me!
God gave me this testimony. He has done great things in me, and I am honored by Him!
To honor God for my testimony and the clarity of knowing Single Mom Smiling is (part of) who I am, I am posting this tonight with the words of Sunday’s first reading from Habakkuk 1.
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets,
so that one can read it readily.
For the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.
Every Monday I will post messages of how the Word of God is creating your testimony. That is my vision written clearly here, upon this modern day tablet, so that all can read my testimony readily. I will not hide nor mourn wasted time. I will remember, God’s vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.
My testimony is not my own but that of a Big and Mighty God working wonders in faulty, little, Beloved me.
I ask you, my dear readers whom I’ve missed so much, to keep me accountable. Hold my feet to the fire if I miss a post; remind me to honor my testimony when I fall to the pit of shame again, for I know I am susceptible!
And help me honor my testimony by commenting, sharing, or writing to me when something strikes you. We never know when someone else needs to hear the words we fear!
That’s it until Monday morning when you can expect it…God’s Word spoken with the voice of brazenly Triumphant Testimony!
If you would like to reach me, please use the email address… KerriBishop@LiveNotOrdinary.com