I have been in the most negative head space lately. Since the chaos of the media died down and I've had time to reflect on where I stand personally. For the past few weeks I have felt held down by an overwhelming feeling of loss and judgement. I have lost relationships, friends, pieces of myself. I have focused on what other people must be thinking of me. It wasn't until yesterday that I finally realized that maybe all of this, the story, the failed relationship, the plans that didn't work out, the altering of my path, maybe none of it was about me at all.
I think it's so easy in traumatic times to find ourselves asking "why me?" I know I have over and over again. Why did all of this happen? What was the purpose? Out of a million women why was I the one who faced this. Well I was sitting in Church at Crosspoint in Nashville yesterday when I finally got my answer.
The message was about listening and following The Lord's guidance. I found myself zoning out at times and getting lost in my own thoughts and worries, but just as my mind would wander something in the message would snap me back to attention. It was as if He was telling me "You need to hear this." This idea of following the Lord's guidance has always been an aspect of faith that I have struggled with. I am a control freak. I have always had trouble understanding the idea of listening to a God who doesn't necessarily talk to me explicitly. How do I know what he is telling me? How do I know that I am following His plan?
Pastor Kevin was talking about how sometimes it's more of a nudge or a feeling than a clear sign and I immediately thought of the beginning of this journey of opening up about my story. I remember when outlets started catching wind of me. I was terrified. I knew that I could keep quiet, maybe they would run with it, maybe not. I couldn't have known. I remember praying constantly for the right path, for the right answer to all of my questions. That's when I felt that same nudge that Pastor Kevin was explaining. I remember feeling compelled to open up and the peace that followed. I knew that no matter what came next I had made the decision that The Lord had called me to make.
As the weeks went on I began to receive hundreds of messages. As expected I received some hateful comments, but shockingly an overwhelming amount of messages from people who had been through situations like mine. (Well perhaps not EXACTLY like mine, but you know what I mean.) Women and men alike who had been hurt or left behind or ghosted. People who wanted their voice to be heard, but were too afraid to speak up for themselves. People who wanted more than anything just not to feel alone. These were messages of empowerment and I drew so much of my strength, and honestly a lot of validation from those messages.
The problem became, however, that as the story inevitably faded and the news moved on to more relevant topics, the messages slowed. It was back to life as usual. Which was a welcome change on the one hand, but on the other the chaos provided this crazy distraction from the negative aspects of what I just experienced. I stepped away from needing to put on a brave face for those around me to letting myself break. That's healthy. That's normal. But for me it has been wildly uncomfortable and a little dark. I have retreated from my social life as most social outings require facing questions about what I just went through. I began to dwell on the people that I lost in the process. On what people now think of me. I became consumed with the people that chose sides and didn't choose me. When people asked me for photos or talked to me at shows and asked me questions or gave me high fives I felt like they were only looking at me as someone's ex. I felt like they were judging me or labeling me.
That is where I messed up in this healing process, though. I let myself get knocked down. I let my voice get lost somewhere in the madness. So to circle back to my epiphany in Church yesterday. As Pastor Kevin talked about the next aspect of movement he explained that persecution and pain are other opportunities for guidance. That we grow the most in the instances that challenge us. When we can't see the path that lies ahead, but we choose to throw ourselves into God's will with blind faith and trust him when it is the most difficult. That is when we change. Then I heard it. Plain as day. He could have yelled it in my ear and it wouldn't have hit me harder than it did in that moment. "It's not about you Haley, it's about Me."
Wow. One more for good measure. Wow.
I have been missing the point here. I wasn't put in this situation for me. I didn't go through this for me or because of me. I went through this for Him. For those people that needed Him in their time of heartache. for every person who sent a message. For every person that now feels like their voice matters, or that they're not alone. For every person that was touched by my story. It wasn't about my pain, it was about their healing and His glory.
Talk about a wake up call. The Creator of Heaven and Earth letting me know that I didn't do anything to 'deserve' the hurt that I felt. That none of it was my wrongdoing. That it had nothing to do with how many loving acts I performed for another human or how much I loved that human and everything to do with my Heavenly Father. I instantly recalled every moment of prayer, every conversation, every plea for guidance and strength over the past few months. I felt the gratitude and the light that I felt from the closeness that I found in spite of the hardest time of my life return to my heart.
So as I reflect on this today I can't tell you what my next step is. I can't tell you where my career will go. I can't tell you who my prince charming is or how he will show up, but I do know without a doubt that My Father has got me. That his plan is perfect and so much larger than anything I can possibly imagine. What a blessing it is to be loved like that. What an adventure. I'm not saying it's going to be easy. I'm not saying I won't struggle with doubts or fears, but I do know now that it's not about me.