Through that year, I encountered more challenges than I ever had before, or ever have since. Struggling through the end of an 18-year marriage, dealing with the realities of poverty and single parenting, and existing as a person whose child was battling a life-threatening illness was daunting and difficult. If I ever say anything that makes it sound like it was easy, I'm covering for you so that you don't have to feel bad about it. It was hard. Add to that an ex-husband who didn't help, a church family who deserted me eventually for whatever reason (I'm told that my ex was telling them stories that made them not want to be there for me), and my own father dealing with a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery, which left my own family barely able to be present for me, and you have the very definition of hardship.
The good thing about hardship, though, is that when we endure it, when we focus on positives, set goals, and pull ourselves out of it, we have embedded a certain trait into our psyche - one that will define how we approach every single challenge from then on. This little thing is called grit.
At the time, though, grit was the last thing on my mind. Often, I would come home at night from school or the hospital feeling alone. Many times, while my children slept in their beds, I searched, begged and pleaded for strength. Sometimes this was in silent prayer, but often it was in the form of song.
Music is a big part of my life. I mentioned another song in the blog post "Amazing Grace" which has profound meaning to me, and for sure, that song was sung often while I rocked my son to sleep in those hospital rooms. However, when I was at home in those moments when I was barely hanging on, there were two songs that I would sometimes play over and over, singing as loudly as I could without waking up the children. After two or three repeats, I would move from my deepest desperation into a complete sense of empowerment.
The songs were "I Can Only Imagine" by Mercy Me and "Bring on the Rain" by Jo Dee Messina. The combination of these songs reminded me of the two powers I have within myself to encounter and defeat any difficulty that comes my way.
"Bring on the Rain" reminded me that my life was going to be experienced in the way I chose to experience it. Whether I decided to focus on the negatives and have a negative life or whether I chose to embrace the positives and know that negatives are just another part of the whole adventure, was entirely up to me.
"I Can Only Imagine" invoked a power beyond myself. The power that God provides and which always has been and always will be there for me. The power that has overcome the world. My God has my back. He always has and always will. Sometimes outcomes are not what I want them to be, but I can always know that whatever those outcomes are, God will have my back. He had it in 2002 and revealed himself to me in so many minute and infinite ways.
Still today, the sound of those songs brings back memories, tears, and a renewed sense of empowerment. They are a reminder that rain can be seen as a storm or as a giver of life.
The choice is yours.