Welcome to The Tearoom! This week we have the pleasure of hearing Jennifer Baxter share a bit of her story, and remind us of the truth that, when all else fails, God is enough, and our faith in Him will be enough to get us through whatever it is we are facing. Thanks so much for sharing, Jenn!
It’s taken me a long time to get to this point.
Now let me just stop for a moment and say, I am still nowhere near “perfect.” I certainly haven’t figured it all out. And there is plenty more for me to learn.
But, what I can say is that everything that has happened in my life up to this point (and I do mean everything… the good AND the bad), has brought me to a place in my life where I feel joy on an almost daily basis.
I am not saying this to brag. And before you start envisioning a jet-setting life of glamour and glitz, with never-ending shopping, travel and trips… let me clarify, that is NOT what I’m talking about.
What I’m referring to is not happiness – that temporary feeling that you get when you watch a good movie or receive a nice gift. I’m talking about real, true joy. Joy that can come only from the Lord.
It’s joy that happens at the height of excitement or in the middle of the mundane. It’s not dependent on outside circumstances and it’s more peaceful than it is exuberant.
But you want to hear something crazy?
The joy, peace and gratitude I feel now happened as a direct result of five years of misery.
Yes, you read that right. The fact that I went through pretty much HELL for several years in a row is exactly why I am filled with peace and joy now.
Let me explain.
In 2007, I got into what I thought was my “it” relationship. I thought I had found the love of my life and I was ready to get married, raise a family, the whole deal. Only problem was… it turned out to be an abusive relationship. Emotionally, verbally and occasionally physically.
To say it was a tough situation is an understatement. He wasn’t angry all the time. Sometimes we were on top of the world. And therefore, I stayed in the relationship for close to four years.
While I was in the middle of that situation, my father passed away. He had been battling cancer for four years and immediately after the worst fight my ex and I ever had (that resulted in the cops taking him away and me going back to stay with my parents), he went into a hospice and passed away.
Then there was the period where I was trying to rebuild myself and my life. It was difficult, but I was doing it. And then my body fell apart. Or at least, it felt like it.
I had one heath issue after the next and no one could figure out what was wrong. Then, in the middle of that, my mother (who was also my very best friend) was also diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. And again, within six months, she went into a hospice and passed away.
Needless to say, it was a LOT to handle.
In fact, it was a little too much for my body to handle, because I ended up with advanced adrenal fatigue (which is why my whole body felt like it was falling apart).
Understandably so, as even one of those events would be enough to cause someone to want to give up. And believe me, I had my moments.
BUT… the truly miraculous thing is, because I gave it all to God…. He brought me through it.
Now again, let me clarify, I was by no means perfect throughout this process. I’d “give it to God,” only to “pick it back up” shortly after. It was a daily choice to depend on Him and it still is.
But when I had literally been stripped of pretty much everything… my love relationship, my parents (or my “tethers” as I refer to them), my health and pretty much my sanity… I had no choice but to lean on God.
I knew I couldn’t do it alone. It was too much for one person.
So I leaned on him. Hard. Every day.
Sometimes I wouldn’t even have the energy to pray. But I’d just say God, “You know what I need. Please help.”
And that’s enough.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” -Romans 8:26 (NIV)
We don’t always have to know what to say, we just need to ask. We just need to bring our weariness to God and collapse at His feet. And let Him do the rest.
I can’t even tell you exactly how I got through, but I did. It’s been two and a half years since my mother passed away and almost a full year since I really started to feel better physically. And life is good.
It’s not perfect. It’s not free of troubles and never will be.
But the difference is I can feel God with me every step of the way.
I don’t try to figure everything out on my own anymore because I was never meant to in the first place.
My faith in God is what got me through the roughest times – in the middle of that fight, when I watched my dad take his last breath, my mom take hers, or when I couldn’t even shower without feeling physically exhausted.
It’s what delivered me and brought me to a place where I now am blessed to do what I love for a living every day, what continuously humbles me by the ways I am able to reach out to others and inspire them, and what brings me joy in the middle of a regular day of running errands.
It is a gift, a lifeline and sometimes… the only thing that will get you through.
But you will get through.
Just hold on and let God do the rest.
Jenn Baxter is an accomplished writer in Charlotte, NC, who has been published in numerous print publications, as well as featured as a columnist on Beliefnet.com. Her freelance clients span across the nation, as well as Australia and the UK, in the fashion & beauty, health & wellness, travel and life coaching industries. In 2015, she launched her website, Live a F.a.s.t. Life, based on her own experiences with clean living, emotional health and downsizing into a 160 sq. ft. tiny house, and released her first book, “Tiny Abundance: My Journey to a Simple, Yet Fabulously Abundant Life in 160 Square Feet,” which is available on her website and Amazon.com. She also strives to help others learn to clean up their homes, their bodies and their lives in her first e-course, “De-Clutter, De-Tox, De-Stress.”