Two years ago was my rock bottom.
I remember the dreaded walk to the mailbox. Each day having found another bill, an overdue bill, or a notice stating that if our already late payment wasn't made immediately, then things would start to be shut off.
I remember not being able to drive the kids anywhere because our van had to stay parked at our home, only soon to be taken from us. Although I didn't want our children to see it take place, we watched through the window as our vehicle was driven away.
I remember the day we inconspicuously had to empty our babies' piggy banks. We needed to be able to cover the funds to get a handful of groceries for the week. And when I thought this was one of our low points, I was wrong. We did even dip a little lower.
I remember walking through each room of our house, looking for anything that we could do without to try to sell to make even the smallest amount of money.
I remember feeling like there was no way we could slip any lower, but then we fell yet again. And when I was quite sure we were at rock bottom, in complete disbelief, one more time, we slipped a bit further until I was certain everything was about as bad as it could get.
My husband and I both had good jobs. But despite this, we still just made ends meet. Each month by the grace of God, our growing family was able to thrive. But when you take one of those incomes completely away, I'm sure you can guess what happens.
I went through a postpartum depression after my third baby. I tried to go back to teaching simply because we needed my income, but I had hurt so badly, crying constantly, just struggling to barely make it through my day. Not only the emotional but physical pain I endured being away from my babies, it was a profound pain that I wouldn't wish upon anyone.
Despite knowing what this was going to do to us financially, I knew I needed to be home with my babies.
So what was my turning point?
We barely had any gas in my husband's vehicle. We still needed to plow through two more days before his payday. However, I'll never forget that night. I felt the deepest conviction that I needed to drive 30 minutes each way to take another mother, way more in need than we were, our double stroller. She had several young children, no vehicle, many doctor appointments she needed to attend, and was somehow walking all of her children to and from these appointments. It was an uncanny situation how I learned of her, but I was so blessed that I did.
I remember as I was sobbing in the shower one evening, literally soaking in self pity, as I was crying out to God for help and an answer to my problems, that it quickly came to me.
I was overcome with the biggest urge to help this woman. I got out of the shower and told my husband I needed to take her our stroller. Naturally, he questioned me as we barely had enough gas for him to make it to work the next two days let alone make an unexpected hour round trip, to give away the kids' and I only means of transportation at the time.
I couldn't explain it to him, my dire need to go help this mother and that it needed done right then, but I told him I needed to do this and out the door I went.
I don't remember many details from that night including what the woman looked like or our exact exchange of words, but I do remember the feeling that this is exactly what I needed to do and that that was my answer from God.
I asked for help for my family, as I felt it wasn't possible for us to slip much lower than we already were at, and His answer to me was that we still were able to help. To still love. To still be selfless. To still give. To still think of the needs of others. That there was still so much hurt, so much need, more so than what we were going through.
After meeting this woman and handing over our double stroller, while on the drive home, I had tears running down my face in complete thanksgiving. As I saw the fuel tank slip closer and closer to empty and knew that somehow my husband would need to make it work the next day, right then and there I stopped worrying. I stopped trying to figure things out on my own. I was simply content with the fact that somehow, someway it would just work out, as it always did.
It was then and there that I gave it all over to the only One who had been patiently waiting for me to give it over to Him, to let Him take care of it. To let Him fix things. To let Him do the impossible and turn our burdens into blessings. To pull us out of a hole that for so long I couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel.
If there is one thing I want to teach my children, it's about God's love and that we are merely instruments of His to be used. No matter what position we find ourselves in, there is always room to love, to help, to give.
So what is the secret to success? What is the key to finding true happiness? What is the answer to all hurt, problems, and impossibilities of this world?
To simply let go, to let God, and give your will to Him. And I promise you, each and every issue will receive its solution. Each and every desire will be answered, simply because your desires become His desires. Each and every question will be answered, but in His perfect timing and in His ideal way.
It has taken me endless years of struggle, countless periods of pain and depression and solitude, and more occurrences of failure than I'd like to admit, and all the while, the answer was so plain and so simple.
Today, I'm grateful of every single hardship we endured. As a wife and mother and strong, independent woman, it has taught me humility. Despite going through numerous hardships and poverty throughout my childhood, it gave me an even deeper empathy for those less fortunate than myself, then what we had been going through.
Please remember: you're not a failure until you stop trying. I have learned that if I have no other testimony than this one: "I'm still here."
And, that, my friends, is what matters. By the grace of God, He's brought us out of our hole stronger, ready to serve Him more than ever, and each day I pray that He continues to increase my faith.
Big battles indicate big blessings are on their way.
Don't forget that no matter where we are in life, God has more in store. He never wants us to quit growing. He never wants to quit blessing us so we can simply pass upon those blessings.
Today we catch ourselves selfishly complaining about a vehicle that our growing family barely fits in, but then we are quick to remember and thank God that we have our car to get us from point A to point B.
The nights someone is complaining about what is for dinner, we all praise Him that we have filled cabinets and a fridge to keep our babies' tummies full. And pray that God sends an angel to all of those families hungry and in need everywhere, as He has sent numerous angels to help us.
When we think we need this and that, I'm filled with gratitude that we were just able to give items away for free to other families, and let me tell you just how good that felt. Probably even better than being able to pay our bills on time.
As long as it took me to discover this secret of life, I'm so blessed that I did. I found out the key to happiness, the key to success, is to always help bless and give to others. THIS is why I consider myself rich as I sit here today.
And as a mother, there may be no greater gift I can teach my children than that.
Even when no one else notices or sees, He does. And He, in turn, blesses you. Even when the world says there is no way, God will find you a way.
Just be ready to take that path when He lays it out before you.