A WARRIOR PRINCESS I AM.
My Scars are my Trident, and I will wear them well.
This would be arrogant or foolish or both if I thought any of this came from my own power. It does not, but that does not make it any less valid. In fact, it makes it more so.
There are certain periods in history when God calls His people to stand up, be strong, and take action. He calls those who have been through hard things to go through harder things. He calls us to train physically, intellectually, socially, financially, emotionally, and spiritually to be invincible.
I believe we are in one of those periods now
Do I also believe I am invincible? Of course not, but I believe I am powerful through Christ who Strengthens me and calls me by the name He gives, Beloved.
He calls His Beloved to be Warriors.
After being quietly watchful for so long, God is asking much of us now. It’s time we recognize the fight, accept our responsibility, up our training.
When I began Single Mom Smiling on October 11th, 2011, exactly 11 years ago today (You can find that post here), I thought I was battling my former husband, an inept court system, and a corrupt church. I did not realize how deep the issues went or how quickly the entire world would spiral out of control.
When the sobbing stranger showed up on my doorstep looking for comfort and advice because her husband was cheating on her and, in our small town, she, like everyone else, had heard my story, I knew others would follow. I knew God was calling me to take a stand, to better myself, and to rise in whatever capacity I was called to. I knew there would be battles, but I underestimated the fight ahead. I did not realize all the players involved, or how sly the principalities of darkness were.
I also did not understand my own weaknesses.
Back then, I fought, not only my ex husband, the court, and the church, I also fought demons in my own head. I do not know the demons’ names, but they seemed to know my labels. They called me, sometimes in whispers and sometimes in screaming shouts. Either way, I was sure everyone everywhere heard the names that seemed to define me…
Loser. Worthless. Missed Opportunity. Weak. Stupid. Nothing. Nobody. Useless. Unlovable…
The names were tricky. I did not know when they would pop up. I could be doing great, going along thinking I was finally “over” it and BOOM! Out of nowhere a mind game would tower over me telling me I was not worthy of whatever path I was on.
How do you fight such a foe?
When you battle a person or a system, you know who to keep in your sights. You have a target. You can formulate a plan to avoid, deny, and defend yourself from the aggressor. You have something or someone concrete to focus on.
When you battle the thoughts in your head or the obscure and oppressive darkness currently invading our world, your enemy is abstract. It is hard to face an enemy you cannot see, define, or name. It is difficult to recognize the very real battle you are in when no one else sees the bloodshed. It seems impossible know which weapons to select and train with or where to aim those weapons when the time comes to fire.
The abstract can paralyze those God would use as Warriors in His plan to defeat such evil.
We are in a battle of good vs. evil.
Make no mistake. For all the talk of the possibility of war we hear lately, most people are mistaking that we are already at war. We were born into battle whether we recognize it or not. It is just that now, the devil has upped the ante and many are finding there is no longer a place to hide. I, like others, am realizing this battle is beyond you or me or any of our individual struggles.
Recognizing the reality of the war we are already in, the war for hearts, minds, and eternal souls, and of the call for each of us to be Warriors is the best way to avoid bloody physical battles in the years ahead.
I have struggled to recognize the battle I was called to rather than the battle I thought I was in or that I wanted to be in. The battle is not so much that of single parenting or any of the struggles people see. All the things I thought I was called to fight were side battles, casualties of a bigger conflict. These were distractors meant to sidetrack us and draw us away from the bigger picture.
They worked on me for a while too.
If you’ve followed Single Mom Smiling for a while you know I started this blog on this day October 11, 2011, 11 years ago in the midst of trauma and overwhelm and fear. I slept two to three hours a night and often shook visibly. I had a plan, but I believed the world would come crashing down if I did not implement my plan perfectly. I worked my tail off trying to build a life for my boys and me. I had plans for our good and for the good of others who would follow in our footsteps, and I threw myself into making those plans come to fruition.
God honored what I set out to do. I took my 60 additional college credits, got my 7-12 math certification, and landed a great job. I also grew my group of Catholic Single Moms to almost 600 inspirational women. My boys are all on the right track according to the world’s standards.
I traveled the country. I camped my way to Yellowstone with my three youngest boys and drove to Oklahoma City, Dallas, Hot Springs AK, Shiloh and back to NY to ask people what they love about America. I got the opportunity to learn from and be trained by Green Beret, Jason BA VanCamp and his crew of special forces, Green Berets, a Navy SEAL, and other elite and inspirational Military Personnel. I embraced Deliberate Discomfort and began to see that all these years I thought I was fighting, I was really running.
I was running from who I am and who God calls us to be.
I could go on for a long time about both the trauma and Blessings my boys and I have experienced since their father walked out on Mother’s Day 2009, but what I’ve realized is the truth behind the statement that the devil uses good for evil while God uses evil for Good.
I can see myself in many different scenarios over the years. The evil of abandonment, being pregnant and alone, divorce, abuse, and more brought me strength many will never experience. I have met and learned from incredible men, women, and children others do not get the chance to meet, never mind talk with. I have travelled to places I had never been to and have done things many would not dream of. I have done things I certainly never would have dreamed of!
I did all of this because I was faithful to God in the midst of evil tearing apart our lives and He was faithful to me. He took the evil that had been inflicted upon me and brought Glory out of it.
At the same time, those Blessings, the ever-better career moves, the trips across America, the meeting people who inspired and challenged me, the so many countless number of good things I was Blessed with distracted me from who I am. They pulled me away from the mission that was so clear to me as I opened that first blank blog page on 10/11/11, 11 years ago.
Back then, I did not know what God wanted me to do with the little blog I started in secret. I just knew I was called to write. I prayed He would send the right people to hear my message. I prayed some of them would learn from me and that I would learn from them as well. I can’t tell you how that happened, but it did, beyond my wildest dreams.
I see now all my success also sidetracked me from who I am. While I moved farther from the trauma, I also moved farther from admitting the testimony I was living out. I lived in fear of someone finding out about Single Mom Smiling or of people laughing at the thought that I might be able to help others overcome their struggles.
The devil was at work in my success.
But God was faithful, and I clung to Him even as I learned more, trained harder, and ran faster.
Then I realized I could never out learn, out train, or out run, God’s plan for me. He had given me so many gifts, including the gift of abandonment. All my experiences, all my toughness, all my ability to find beauty no matter the storm I was in were gifts given to Warriors.
I was no Warrior like Jason VanCamp and other impressive men like him. They are a breed of their own, but I am also a breed of my own. My respect for them does not diminish the respect I have for myself and what I have lived through. In fact, it amplifies it.
They have their callings. They fight a battle I cannot imagine.
I fight mine.
But a Warrior cannot fight our battle and leave the battlefield behind. Instead we are called to walk tall, rise above, and be beacons of Hope to others. This is cannot be done in arrogance, but in humility and gratitude for all we have been seen and done.
We are not called to walk away, but to bring others out.
The Green Berets train soldiers, not by denying who they are or what they have gone through, but by embracing it.
I cannot train those who have been through hard times without embracing all of my story too.
11 years later, I have stopped running. I am a single mom, abused, abandoned, pregnant alone, divorced, traumatized and freaking strong as granite. I will bend but not break. I will stand strong and praise God in my storms. I will train to be tougher in body, mind, and soul. I will work to detach from earthly pleasures and embrace virtue.
At the same time I also am incredibly thankful that I have not lost my softer side. In fact, I appreciate it more because of the strength I have learned.
I can still floss (the dance, not my teeth) in front of my high school students and tell them jokes that make them put their heads down on their desks. I can still swerve off the road because a sunrise catches my eye and my heart longs to share it with someone special. I can still fill a page of gratitude in my journal every day and never repeat the same thing twice. I can laugh with my friends, sneak a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream now and then, and hug my “little ones” who now tower over me.
I can sit alone in silence, inhaling and exhaling, meditating on life and be at Peace with where I am and with whatever comes my way.
The “Warrior” side of me, refuses to accept defeat. She focuses on goals, looks for ways to overcome obstacles, and picks off targets one by one. The softer, “Princess” side of me keeps Hope alive, smooths edges of hardness my inner Warrior would portray in every situation, and celebrates every moment, laughing at failures and being grateful for triumphs.
My testimony is that God, who is both Lion and Lamb has made me into both Warrior and Princess.
And that is a happy place for me to be.
I know I will still face battles in my future. I know many of them will be ones inside my own head and those I cannot define. That is okay. I am made for those battles and I am ready to help others train to be ready for theirs.
I fight nothing alone.
I have a Testimony given to me, and my God is working for Good in my life.
I have come to realize my testimony is only my testimony because of the scars I bear.
My testimony is only my testimony because of the struggles I faced and still face.
My testimony is only my testimony because I have come through the fire and been refined by it.
No one has a testimony while still in the flames.
We have a testimony only when we realize God has pulled us through and we are prepared to go back to the flames to be used as an instrument to pull others to their testimonies too.
If you are not there yet, be patient but persistent. Take risks. Do hard things. Embrace failure. Talk to strangers. Work hard. Laugh often. Go ALL in. Embrace your story.
Live Out Your Testimony.
11 years after starting Single Mom Smiling, I can honestly say…
I am a Warrior Princess.
My scars are my Trident.
I will be grateful and wear them well.
As I am trying to build this outreach, please help spread the word of God’s Love and the power He gives us in our struggle. Subscribe, like, and share my work. Thank you so much!
If you want to see the 60 day training program I completed (twice) or are looking for an intense challenge, check out the Deliberate Discomfort Challenge led by Green Beret, Jason Van Camp here.
If you are looking for a similar, but less intense, Christian based program that draws from what I learned in my ICF certification, post traumatic growth and resiliency training, the challenge above, and decades of life, reach out to get on my mailing list! I will be launching my Beloved program soon and am looking for people to take the first trial run through!
If you would like coaching or to contact me, please email me at KerriBishop@LiveNotOrdinary.com