Dana’s Story: 

After the children left there was quiet.

It was deafening. My days had gone from vibrant, organized chaos, to a hum of familiar routine. Although we shared 25 years of marriage and he is absolutely the love of my life and soul mate, a chasm existed between me and my husband. Feeling under constant scrutiny and forever defending myself, our conversations easily turned into debates and I frequently walked away defeated. I did not feel heard or valued and most days I grew discouraged by the lack of meaningful conversation and this made me sad.

My relationship with Jesus is a close one. I talk to him every day; some days are filled with more words than others. I tried to be content with the truth that He is more than enough, and my earthly marriage was what it was. But God had more. My life verse is found in chapter 29 of Jeremiah, where God promises He has a plan and a purpose and it is to prosper and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future. In the silence of an empty nest God guided me deeper into these truths.

The Lord speaks to us as individually, just as intimately as I speak to my children. In my case, he spoke in the mundane of monthly trips to the hair salon. I’m a monogamous hair salon client. Over the course of my lifetime, I have only had three. The first saw me through my 20’s, the second shared the joys of motherhood, and the third, a woman two decades my junior, listened to the “wisdom” of an older woman as I launched my “encore” career as an entrepreneur. Like many women, I am prone to develop deep friendships with those I trust with my tresses, so I mourned the loss of a confidante with each changing of the chair.

I now see how God in his infinite wisdom had divinely orchestrated my stylistic sojourn. My second stylist, Susi, who would share the ups and downs of marriage and parenting right along with me for 15 years, left the area. It seemed her personal ups and downs led her back to her hometown.

Sad to say goodbye, it took a while to find another salon. Through random (not really) circumstances I benefited from the talent of a delightful young woman who would become my confidante for the next 10 years. Sara would see me through the launching of my children and my pivot into small business ownership. During the last year together, she began to experience health issues that seemed benign, however, ended up being cancer. She gave up the career she adored, and I grieved the loss of not just another “stylist” but a vibrant young woman.

Then, in God’s divine providence, I received a letter from Susi. She announced her return to the area with a desire to reconnect with old clients should they be in need. I made an appointment. Our conversation was familiar, and soon we were sharing present challenges, just like old times. Susi mentioned a Christian counselor who had been very beneficial to her and her daughters and gave me her number. I contacted her, with the idea of connecting her with my daughter; however, at the end of the conversation I was the one with the appointment.

In 57 years, I had never considered counseling, but in three sessions I experienced a breakthrough and God shown his light on the ugly grip shame had on my life. Shame covered me like a cloak, perpetuating numerous lies like not smart enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, never enough. The counselor taught me to recognize this internal dialogue for the attack that it is and to pause.  She counseled me not to react in the emotion but to respond in God’s truth.

For example, I heard my husband question how I was doing something as” you aren’t doing it right” and reacted to that shame trigger from the emotion of not smart enough resulting in a combative posture. On the other hand, if I needed to reschedule an appointment or say no to someone with whom I was not close, the deep-seated shame triggered the emotion of insecurity and resulted in me fawning all over myself in apologies.

Responding with the emotion of my 11-year-old self caused shame to override what God really sees in me. Today, I am learning to respond from a place of truth that my sins are forgiven, and I am washed as white as snow in the blood of Jesus and to not allow the lies to trap me.

I am learning not to hear my husband’s comments with the ears of insecurity but to pause, remind myself the truth is I am more than enough because I am the daughter of a king who loves me unconditionally. In doing so, Satan is losing his grip on my emotions and I am more able to connect with my husband as a peer, a helpmate, and a wife rather than the emotionally scarred 11-year-old girl. What Satan meant for evil, God has worked out for my good because I love him and have been called for a purpose.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11