This weekend I turn 40. This is no small thing! Having had so much happen in my 30s, I can honestly say, that I am looking forward to shutting the door on this decade, and look forward to all that my 40s will bring. As I pondered on this milestone, I started to think about the last decade, and all that I had journeyed through. The decade was jam packed with a lot of heartache and struggles, There were moments of joy too, but overall my 30s were marked by a lot of hard times. I believe that these trials have not been for nothing and as Joseph said to his brothers, I say to the enemy of my soul, "You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done." I believe that my story will be a life line to those suffering from depression, chronic health, grief, hurts from people and self hatred. I pray that my story will give people hope.
I entered my 30s, a first time mother of a bouncing, almost 6 month old baby boy. It was the year I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. In the years that followed, My husband would lose his job and start working from home, I would give birth to my second son and suffer from post natal depression. I would discover how hard it was to juggle a baby and a toddler with a business being run from home, especially with little support from family. We would move home 3 times in this decade.
Our third son joined our family to complete it, but I still missed the baby I lost to miscarriage years beforehand. It was in my 30s where I learned that it was OK to grieve the baby that I never got to hold. I grieved my daughter and found peace, knowing that one day I will see her beautiful face, and spend Eternity with her. I have stood before a crowd of grieving families, at the White Butterfly Project Reflection Service and shared my story. I also had the honour of sharing my story of overcoming Post natal depression with a room full of teenage mothers.
I heard God whisper to me a new name, ‘Jo Princess Warrior’ and start this blog. Through this blog I would not only express myself through words, but God would use those words to heal me, touch other’s lives and encourage people amidst their own struggles. I am constantly amazed by the private messages I receive from women all over the world thanking me for being so raw and transparent and how it has inspired them. It is an honour to encourage others by sharing my journey. It was in my 30s that I discovered I had a gift for writing, and had 3 different articles published in 2 different magazines.
It was in my 30s that I got to a point in my life where I was so sick of playing church and craved an intimate relationship with Him. I heard about this life full of joy that I was meant to have as a Believer, and outside I looked good. But inside I was empty, suffering from depression, and burdened down with expectations on myself and from others. I was weighed down with condemnation. In my 30s is where God met me in a way that I understood His love and grace.
I have also surprised myself by choosing to home educate my sons. I have given up and contemplated ending our homeschool season many times. I am proud of myself that here I am 5 years later, still homeschooling. I believe nothing has shaped my character more than homeschooling my boys. It has stretched me like nothing else has, and forced me to rely on God like never before.
I was diagnosed with a second chronic illness, pyrrolle disorder, battling with major fatigue daily. I am still fighting this battle, but continue to trust in His love and power to set the captive free. I believe Holy Spirit is showing me exactly what I need to do for my healing to take place. I believe in my 40s I will experience health like I have never known, leaving behind the constant struggle with bad health in my 30s.
People have wounded me in my 30s. There has been a lot of hurt. Most of it coming from within the church and from Christians. The church has been a house of pain, rather than a house of healing for me. I have learned that there is a lot of talk about grace, but that grace is not always given.There is a lot of talk about family, but only if you serve within the church are you treated as family. There is a lot of talk about love, but that love comes with conditions. I have learned that when you question things, it makes people uncomfortable. I have learned that I can still be a Believer regardless of whether or not I attend a church service every Sunday or not. I have been challenged in my definition of church I have held onto for 20 years. I have been happy to step outside of the Christian bubble that I have been living in, to discover a whole world out there that need to hear the good news, and may never set foot inside of a church.
I have discovered a lot about myself, especially in my 39th year. I have learned that I am quite good at taking photographs and that I like to draw and paint. I am looking forward to exploring art and photography more in my 40s. I have learned that I am more introvert than extrovert. I discovered that seeing a psychologist is one of the best things that I could have done towards my inner healing. I have discovered that I worried too much about what others thought of me, and am determined in my 40s to live without fear of other people's opinions. I am committed in my 40s to be authentic and true to who God made me to be.
In my 30s I discovered that the best friend that I craved my whole life was right beside me the whole time - my husband. In all my highs and lows over the past decade, one thing remained constant – his love for me, and that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Over the last 10 years, I have fought to discover exactly who I am. I believe that I enter my 40s more confident of who I am, accepting and loving who God made me to be. I know that I am beautiful just the way God made me. I am a beautiful imperfect mess. I am enough.
Here's to the next decade.
I believe the best is yet to come!
Still taking lessons from the King,