Joy comes in the morning
100 days have passed and more than happiness was found!
Looking back on my last 100+ days I am so thankful I started this journey. I am a completely different person. My husband has even said that he feels like he finally has the "Old Deanna" back.
So much has happened!
When I first started this journey on June 27th, it was hard to find anything in my day that brought me happiness. I was so deep and lost in my depression that it was a challenge to find one thing I could take a picture of. (If you'd like to read my previous post about my depression and my 100 day challenge, you can find it here.)
This challenge kept me focused daily and aware of my journey to healing. As the days passed it became easier and easier to find a picture to post. Happiness was beginning to slowly return and it was leading me in the direction of finding joy.
I know the end goal of my life as a believer in Christ isn't just happiness. Happiness is a fleeting emotion. Joy and happiness are wonderful feelings to experience, but are very different. Joy is more consistent and is cultivated internally. It comes when you make peace with who you are, why you are and how you are, whereas happiness tends to be externally triggered and is based on other people, things, places, thoughts, and events.
It's no wonder I wasn't happy. Both my happiness and joy were being determined based on people, circumstances, and thoughts. I lost myself. I was no longer at peace with Christ or who I was in Him. Joy and Happiness were both gone. The thing is that when someone else does something wrong and it affects us, we often sit around waiting for them to take the pain away, as though they could come along and undo what has been done. We fail to realize that within the hurt are the most important lessons of our lives, the perfect breeding ground upon which we can start to build everything we really want.
Once I accepted that healing was my responsibility...everything changed. All this time I was waiting for the other person to make it better and it wasn't happening, which left me more angry and bitter. That is the thing about unprocessed pain; it gets transferred to everyone around us.
But guess what!? Deanna's got her groove back! Joy has returned and I am more emotionally healthy than I have ever been. During those 100 days, I decided to get rid of some of my coping mechanisms too. I have been pop free for 152 days and I have not colored my hair either! This is huge for me! My hair was how I would vent when stress came into my life.
That red hair happened at such a horrible time in my life last December. It made me feel again and gave me a different identity when I no longer knew who I was. Not coloring my hair has taken away that coping mechanism and has forced me to embrace the real me even when things get hard. It is quite liberating! And the real me is gray, and I'm embracing it!
The final days of my 100 day challenge was all leading up to my trip to North Carolina. My trip was amazing and God did some more amazing work in my heart.
I was nervous about returning. Would I be triggered by seeing all the familiar places of a state I missed so much? My first night I was on my own before I met up with my friends. A family from our church blessed me with renting a car for me to have on that first day. I was thankful to have wheels to get around and see whatever I wanted. I drove around and stopped at some of my favorite stores.
One of my old habits that I promised to myself I wouldn't do, came to the forefront of my mind. "Go drive past our old house," the voice in my head whispered. I had promised I wouldn't do this because I wasn't confident on how I would react and I didn't want to be triggered. Houses hold a lot of importance and meaning to me. Would it make me sad if I saw our old house? Would I miss it? What if the new owners didn't take care of it and it looks run down? What if it looked way better than when we lived there? Needless to say, I put the car in drive and headed in that direction.
As I got closer my headlights lit up our old mailbox in the dark country night and I pulled into the driveway looking like a total creeper. I stared at our house and the craziest thing happened... NO emotion came over me. None. I no longer felt connected to a house I once loved so very much. I smiled when I saw that they nicely landscaped the front yard and then I put the car in reverse and in that moment I feel like I finally had my proper goodbye to this house. I left with a much more content heart than the last time I pulled out of that driveway. I was at peace.
I then headed into the city of Winston Salem and as I was driving with my windows down I smelled the warm, balmy night air as I turned up the radio. I drove around that night shouting praise songs to my Lord. Some of the songs were from back home in Alaska that our praise director has sung in church. I was in North Carolina, the state I was convinced I missed so much but my mind and heart kept being turned back to Alaska. Even the car I was driving around in came from someone who loves me in Alaska. It finally sunk in that North Carolina is no longer my home and I drove around that night giving a proper and praiseful goodbye to all those familiar sights that I had convinced myself I missed for so long. I was at peace.
My favorite moment of healing came several days later while we were at the beach. Everyone who knows me knows that water is my life. I love it! The ocean has always scared me though and never in my life have I fully gone in.
As me and my two besties sat there on the beach sunbathing on a hot October day, I felt a tug on my spirit. I got antsy and couldn't sit contently. What was happening? Was I being triggered by something? I should have been content and happy. I tried to ignore it and go to my happy mental place but I couldn't take it anymore. I got up and felt compelled to walk straight into the ocean. The beach was busy, but no one was in the water because by North Carolinian standards the water was cold, but I'm an Alaskan now. I was fully clothed with a t-shirt and pants on and as if I was walking towards the open arms of my father I just kept walking. The waves felt like a warm hug that poured over my soul and washed away all my fear. I was completely content out there. I said, "Lord, if you want to take me home today by a shark tearing me to shreds, I'm ok with it". I refused to let my fear of a shark stand in the way of that special time I had alone with my Savior. I began singing "It is well" at the top of my lungs and when I finished I fell backwards and became totally submerged by the sweet salty water. I didn't want to leave. As I looked back to the beach and saw my two girlfriends sitting there chatting, I had no desire to get out to go be with them, which was weird. I have waited so long to see them, but in that moment my time with God was far greater. I was at peace.
About 3 days before I was supposed to fly home, I was ready to be home. I missed my family and my home. I hugged my bestie on the sidewalk of the airport and this time I didn't feel lonely, abandoned or hopeless...I knew I had a family and people who love me that I was returning to.
After I had been back home for a couple of weeks, I decided I wanted to share my testimony of what the Lord has done in my life through this healing process. I am not a public speaker and I usually have a crackly voice and my hands shake really bad. That morning during Sunday School I shared with my church family what the Lord has done in my life and the moment my mouth opened, peace came over me. I wasn't nervous or anxious at all. It was a joy to be vulnerable with so many people and it helped us continue to grow closer together.
It has been about one year since the hurt and trauma came into my life and I have been mentally preparing myself for it. The last few days I have caught my mind wandering and replaying those horrible events. Last night I got an email from the person that was at the center of my hurt. I was expecting my first thought to be, "seriously!? You've got to be kidding me!” This would be the kind of thing that happened last year. I would be having a good day and then an email would come in and send me plummeting again, but last night that wasn't the case. I had an overwhelming peace come over me. I responded and we both agreed to meet today.
God did something amazing that only He gets the credit for. It was amazing and definitely a God thing. I went out to coffee with the person that was enemy this time last year and God did a healing work in both of our lives, right there in that Starbucks.
His timing is always perfect and despite our very horrible efforts of trying to reconcile so many times since the initial hurt happened, He knew it wasn't the right time. God knew that we needed some time apart to get us both ready for this awesome day. A year ago, a day like this wouldn't have been a possibility.
It is evident in scripture that joy in our relationship with God is to be desired more than happiness in our circumstances. Happiness is good, but joy is much better. Happiness is often fleeting because circumstances can change, but joy in Christ is eternal.
Today proved that I am beyond the demand to feel happy. My joy for life, Christ, and people has returned and I am ever so thankful!
God does amazing work when we practice Godly forgiveness. He restores and heals what once was broken. When we try to do it in our own strength it fails every time.
During our year of being out of each other's life, we both allowed our hearts to stay soft and God used that to heal us individually and then today He said we were ready and called us both to the table.
After 3 hours at Starbucks we both hugged, took a selfie and drove away with an overwhelming peace that only comes from God.
I am a 30 something year old single mom of two. I have a 16 year old son and an 14 year old daughter. They are keeping me busy and on my toes in this new phase I call "Teenagedom".
Click my pic to read more about me!