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A Recipe for a New Year


(Photo: Unsplash)

This space between Christmas and New Year tends to be filled with couch conversations—the kind with old friends who are only in town for a few days or with family members who want to catch up before they fly home.  In the few hours you have left together, you refill your coffee cups and keep talking as you try to recount what’s happened over the last year—all the events you could never quite capture over a text message or voice memo. The good and the bad, the big and the memorable, and the moments your life shifted in ways you never saw coming. 

I’ve learned to keep Kleenex in my living room for these conversations as they often move me to tears. That’s really all you need if a friend’s coming by: a box of tissues, a blanket or two, and a heart willing to share the story God is writing in your life. That’s what you’d find if you were to come by my condo this week to catch up, or if you came over for small group the rest of the year.

As you walk through my front door, the first thing you’d see is a wood sign hanging over the fireplace. Romans 12:12 is painted in black print against a white background: 

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Those words remind me of one of the first nights my small group met together in that space. My friend Hannah was curled up in a corner of my couch sharing her testimony. She pointed to the verse on the wall. Those words, she said, had become especially meaningful to her when her marriage took a turn she didn’t expect. 

Some conversations feel too tender to take place anywhere else but a friend’s living room. When I asked Hannah if she would be willing to share how God has worked in the hardest moments of her life, I pictured her in her regular spot on my couch, talking straight to you. If it’s been a long year, if you need to be reminded that God is able to hold you fast when life is falling apart, then grab a warm cup of coffee and join us. 

K: From the outside, it seemed like you were living a fairytale. You grew up in the church. You met a Christian guy in high school, who you dated through college. What happened next? 

H: We got married one month after graduating from college. Along with navigating through our newly acquired adulthood, we were adjusting to our life as newlyweds. There were growing pains and disagreements, but also a lot of joy, Jesus, and laughter. 

That’s why it was such a shock to me that after eight years together—two of those as husband and wife—he told me that he didn’t love me like he thought he would love his wife. He said that the more he pictured his future, the less he saw of me in it, and that he wanted to move on with his life before any more time had passed.

K: What were those initial weeks like for you, and how did the Lord meet you in the midst of them? 

H: The first few months after my husband’s abandonment felt unbelievably hopeless. Our physical bodies have some crazy responses to trauma and heartbreak (loss of appetite, lack of sleep, diminished decision-making capacity, etc.). And, unfortunately, everyday life doesn’t take a time-out so that you can solely focus on processing the past and game-planning for the future. I still had to go into work every day, to my sixteenth-floor, back-corner cubicle.

One particularly tear-filled morning, I pulled up a document on my computer, and words just poured from my heart onto the pages. I began to write and process and listen to the Lord. Day after day, I shared my anger, my disappointment, my doubts, my disbelief with Him. In turn, God’s truth flooded my thoughts, and I was reminded of His steadfast love and faithful presence. 

That tiny cubicle became my hiding place and wrestling ring with God. He met me at my loneliest, and He kept me afloat when it felt like I was drowning in my own tears.

K: As you began processing all that was happening, what were some of the lies you believed about God and about yourself? What truth from Scripture did you cling to?

H: Rejection causes you to believe a lot of lies about yourself. The lies tried to speak into my identity, but God’s voice spoke louder. The Lord showed me that for every lie I was believing because of my husband’s decision to leave, the opposite was true with my Heavenly

Father: 

  • I had been rejected by my husband, but I was chosen by God.
  • I felt worthless as a wife, but I was more than enough in Christ.
  • I experienced broken promises, but I had the unfailing hope of God’s faithfulness forever. 

Earthly loves and relationships will continue to disappoint, reject, and abandon us, but our God will not. I love what Isaiah 54 says:

For your Maker is your husband—
the LORD Almighty is his name . . . 
The LORD will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected,” says your God . . .
“I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD your Redeemer. —Isaiah 54:5–8 NIV

K: You chose to return to the same church where you and your husband served as newlyweds. What was it like for you to go back? Why did you choose to stay?

H: I honestly wasn’t planning on it. After my husband left, I lived with my parents for almost one year. At that point, I felt like I had done all the healing I could do while living at home. Through different connections, on the exact date my husband left the previous year, I moved into a house with three women who happened to be involved at my previous church. One Sunday, I just held their hands, walked into their Bible study, said a little prayer, and never looked back.

It was a difficult season because I felt like I was rebuilding my life from ground zero. But when I looked to my left and my right, I was surrounded by men and women who wanted to join me in that rebuilding—and in different ways, they had pieces of their own lives that needed to be rebuilt.

Going back to the same church has been a big part of the healing journey in many ways. A few weeks ago, I stood in the room where my husband and I attended the Newlywed Sunday School class and shared with 250 women about how the Lord has healed and restored my life over the last three years. Only God could write that redemption story!

K: How has the Lord used His people throughout the healing process? 

H: I am so grateful for this part of my story! I stumbled through the end of my marriage completely alone, not telling anyone that the relationship was struggling, or that my husband had threatened to leave. But the moment he walked out the door, the metaphorical floodgates opened, and I sprinted to my community for prayer, encouragement, and help. Their response was such a beautiful picture of how the church is supposed to work! 

In moments of weakness, when it felt easier to give up on the marriage, my community lifted my hands like Aaron and Hur (Ex. 17:12–14) and encouraged me to keep fighting for the covenant my husband and I had made. I have a list of over fifty ways that friends and family were image-bearers of our Heavenly Father: prayers, voicemails, dinners, flowers on my first single Valentine’s Day, among many other things. There weren’t magic words or activities that made the pain go away, but even a simple, random “heart emoji” text message reminded me that I wasn’t alone or forgotten.

K: Romans 12:12 has been an especially meaningful verse to you over the last few years. What have you learned about being “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and persistent in prayer”? 

H: This verse has brought me peace and direction. It has been a roadmap through life’s trials, highlighting a few fruits of the Spirit (joy, patience, faithfulness) from Galatians 5:22–23. There is joy in hope because Jesus holds my future. I can be patient in my affliction, knowing that my eternity is in Heaven. I strive to be persistent in prayer, knowing that my Father is listening.

K: We’re a few days away from the new year—this can be a hard time for those whose life doesn’t look the way they had planned. What advice do you have for someone struggling to trust God with her future? 

H: First, I would give her a big, long hug! Then I would tell her to bring her disappointments to the Lord. He wants to hold every piece of her heart. I would tell her that it’s okay to mourn her own broken dreams, while simultaneously celebrating a friend’s blessings. But I would also say: don’t bury yourself in that mourning. Open the Bible and search for God’s character. You’ll find that He is faithful, and His plans are for your good, no matter the circumstances. 

Surround yourself with a community of believers who will support and encourage you. Seek other women who are living abundantly amidst their broken dreams. Store up stories of God’s faithfulness from their lives or your own life, and know that He will continue to walk with you.

K: If you could share one message with a woman currently facing similar circumstances, what would you say to her? 

H: When you hit rock bottom, that’s where you will see Jesus as your Rock. Run to Jesus. He will bring the hope and joy and peace that you are seeking. 

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Ps. 18:2 NIV).

Throughout every season, in every storm, Revive Our Hearts is committed to leading women like Hannah to Jesus, our Anchor. This year we’re asking God to provide $3 million to be stewarded to help women hold on to the Solid Rock in 2023. Will you partner with Revive Our Hearts by making a year-end donation during this crucial ministry month? To give today, visit ReviveOurHearts.com

This post used by permission of Revive Our Hearts. To read more Christ honoring content like this please visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

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