When I was a much younger woman, right after I accepted the Lord at the age of twenty, I went to college on a music scholarship and sang with an incredible show band. Life was good. I loved my school. I loved the kids on campus. I loved music. I loved being young and free.
I remember saying, “I’m going to meet a fabulous man with all these certain qualities, we’re going to fall deeply in love, I’ll be married before the age of twenty-five, I’ll have two children before I’m thirty, and life will be almost perfect. We won’t have financial problems, and we’ll all be in church and live the great American dream. I’ll be a stay-at-home mom with a perfect house and home-cooked meals every night. We’ll have a beautiful family and lots of friends.” And do you know what? It happened just as I said it would. Everything fell right into place.
But the divorce wasn’t part of the story I’d written out for myself. In fact, it changed everything else about my story. I’ve cried enough tears to fill Lake Michigan. I’ve worried to the extent of having to repent of it frequently because worry has become somewhat of an idol. And I’ve prayed my guts out asking God why.
My friend, it’s just life. Everybody has their stuff. All you can do is pray and love God with all your heart, do the next right thing, and then stand in full surrender. Stand on the Word. Stand on His promises. Stand next to Him. When you stumble, He holds your hand and dusts you off and helps you get back up. And with His help, you put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
I’d like to tell you about a couple of friends of mine. Jan had been living a vibrant life with her very successful husband. She had been experiencing some pain and numbness, and after a series of tests, she was diagnosed with a neurological disease. Instead of looking at how bad that could be, she looked at what she had going for her and became proactive in managing this disease. I rarely hear her talk about her disease, and she’s always doing something that makes a difference in other people’s lives or pursuing things she loves, like writing and art. She’s approaching her seventies and still sees a world of possibilities in front of her. She works with her illness and doesn’t let it dominate her life or define who she is.
I have another friend, Karen. Karen has been successful for much of her life. She was an entertainer for a long time, created her own magazine, and is an optimist. After her husband passed, she was diagnosed with an arthritic condition that keeps her hobbling around much of the time. She uses a cane and sometimes even a scooter to get around. Karen loves to travel, and she hasn’t let her condition stop her from doing what she loves. She has been all over the world in the last fifteen years, by herself, and she’s seventy-six years old. She always has a smile on her face.
Both Jan and Karen accepted their reality and played the good cards to create happy, healthy lives. Their debilitations don’t dominate their lives. That is the common ground between both these friends. They’re upbeat and positive. I love associating with people who have this attitude. . . .
In the Serenity Prayer, we ask for wisdom. It’s one of the finest things we can ask God for. The Word of God tells us that if we pray for wisdom, God will surely give it to us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5 NKJV). This is a promise we can count on.
So I leave you with this visual. Imagine a beautiful bracelet with these links: forgiveness links to acceptance, which links to surrender, which links to serenity—and all these things link to a happy, healthy life.
And please take heart. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are now or how old you are. Life is full of options at every stage.