I jumped in the car, not knowing where I was headed, nor did I care. As the tears streamed down my face, I cried out, "God, why is this happening to me now? What have I done to deserve this?"
Moments before, my husband had informed me that he didn't want to be married anymore. When I asked what that meant, he told me he didn't have an explanation, but he had filed for divorce.
I ran for the door, jumped in my car, and there I was....barrelling down the highway looking for a billboard that read, "It's not your fault. God."
I never did find that sign, but I did find something. Something greater than anything I could have ever imagined.
I found "myself". I liked her, a lot. She seemed genuine and kind-hearted. She was spiritual. An encourager, a motivator, a friend. But it wasn't that easy, it took time to getting to know myself, out there on that road to no-where.
As I drove down that desolate highway, my life flashed before my eyes. I saw my family at Thanksgiving. All of us around the table, each of us telling what we were grateful for. The nostalgic smell of turkey and apple pie filled my memory. The laughter, joy and love came alive, again.
Then my mind skipped ahead. I saw the weekends I spent with my nephew and my niece. Holding them as babies, having them fall asleep on my chest and the warmth of their tiny, innocent little bodies. The birthday parties, so filled with joy and excitement. I saw the skinned knees, the bumped heads and the smile that appeared when I kissed away their pain. I grinned at how much I love those two precious little kids.
Then I saw my friends. My amazing friends, the ones that never let me down and hold the keys to my heart. I saw all of the trips we have taken together. The long nights on the telephone laughing, crying and giggling. Visions of days at the beach...walking and talking, the joy of their marriages, the birth of their children and the purchases of their first homes. It was all so surreal.
These amazing images filled my memory. I knew how precious life was. I knew I would make it through all of this, with the help of God, family and my friends.
Then it occurred to me. I was still in my gardening clothes. As I pulled down the rearview mirror to take a look, I saw my tear stained face, smudged with mud. My hair was stringy and damp. It was an awful sight. I had to laugh at the reality of it all, I was a mess. But then I remembered the words "Come as you are." I knew God didn't see that mud on my chin, my soiled clothes or my red, puffy eyes. He saw my heart. He saw how much I love him, how much I wanted my life to honor him and how willing I was to give my troubles to him.
That summer day was a "retreat". No fancy clothes, no freshly applied make-up, no soothing beach or tropical drink. I met my best friend that day. I met myself. Someone I will be with for a long time to come.
Several hours later I returned home. My life was about to change, but I had help. I had God on my side and I knew who I was and what I had to do. "Trust and obey."
That retreat was something very special. I call it the "Come as you are" retreat. That is all God wants from us. To come just as we are to him, even with a broken and dirty heart. He doesn't look at us from the outside, but he looks at us from the inside. That is all that will matter, now and forever.
May you take time to recall your own beautiful memories. "Come as you are", God is waiting!
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