September 9, 2023 marked a one year journey that has been perhaps the most difficult year of my life. Those who know me, know that I have been through some major storms throughout my life, but this past year has surpassed them all. It left me feeling hopeless, worthless, broken, and at times feeling crazy.
It all started when my friend Jen, another friend of hers, and I were riding horses on a beautiful September day. It was a lovely and peaceful ride. I had much to celebrate since I had just officially opened Hope Embers Counseling. The first half of the ride went perfectly. We went through a small meadow. The scent of fall was in the fresh warm air. Attached to the meadow was a forest of peaceful trees. It was silent other than the calming sound of the horses, the occasional rustling of squirrels playing, and the happy songs of the birds in the trees. It was when we entered the space between the wooded area and a corn field that my day took a nosedive.
We had no idea that there was a hornet’s nest in the ground between the corn field and the wood line. As we rode along unsuspectedly Jen stirred the bees, and I got the brunt of the attack. I froze as I saw the bees landing on me and getting stuck to my shirt. I was literally paralyzed with fear in the moment. My horse was also getting attacked, but I wouldn’t let her run us out of the situation. To make it all worse I am highly allergic to bees, doctors say my fatal reaction is coming. Getting stung is never a small deal for me, and I was stung 13 times. The picture attached shows only 2. I spent the next week in bed with body aches like you get with the flu. My whole body also felt like it was on fire.
I didn't realize it at the time but this would be a foreshadowing of the next year of my life. Several events took place that left me feeling like I was frozen in the middle of a hornet’s nest constantly getting stung. No one could save me, no one could or would stop what was happening, and sometimes it felt like no one could hear me. Every move I made caused me to get attacked harder.
The very day I was able to get up and get moving after the bee attack is the day that sparked a series of events that led to a situation where a misunderstanding led to people whom I love dearly ganging up on me and turning against me over a terrible misunderstanding. My reaction to the situation then caused everything to get worse. Everything I did to heal the situation turned out badly. Because of the stress and the pain, I felt over it all, my relationship with my sweet man was tested beyond what most couples could handle.
To add to it all, I was also fighting with the Indiana State board to get my LMFT. I had met all requirements for a year and a half prior, but for some reason I kept getting “lost” in their system. There was so much happening that I couldn’t understand. My whole purpose to get my license was to use it for God’s glory, not my own. Why did I have to fight so hard to get what I had earned, and what I had dedicated to God? The situation cause people to question me about what I was doing one not understanding about the process. I was so frustrated. It was as if I was in a dark hole, and I felt like I was suffocating. I felt like a failure, I felt foolish, I felt worthless, and confused.
And then, the worst day of my life happened. On April 14th my son died in a very violent and traumatic way. I had been on the phone with him moments before it happened. I was helpless to stop what was going on. I had made phone calls, I had tried to stop him, but shortly after I thought he was safe, I got the call that he had been hit by a car. We were given hope that he survived, but on our way to the hospital, we came across the scene of the accident. Those moments at the scene of the accident still flash in my mind frequently.
That night was followed by months of my torment, and moments of “crazy”. To add to it, I was still in over my head with the other painful situation which was escalating out of control. There were no "safe people" for me. There was no one who uderstood how much I was suffering. There were no answers to my prayers. Life was keeping my man with so much responsibility at work that he was emotionally unable to be what I needed, which quite honestly was a full time “Michele Sitter”. Besides that, he didn’t really know how to help me, no one did. My family and friends watched helplessly as I went further and further into a darkness that threatened to take me out as it had taken my son. The Metaphoric bees were swarming around me, stinging me, and I just stood there in the midst, unable to move. I cried out to God, but he felt silent too.
I needed time to be still, to heal and to not have to care, but I am a business owner, it wasn’t an option for me. Besides that, it is hard to sit with clients who deal with suicidal ideation, or had traumatic car accidents, or couple’s who are fighting over things that just don’t matter in the big scheme of things, when I was hurting so bad myself. There were moments I just stared at my clients and said, “I don’t even know what you just said to me.” I was so lost in my own pain, I was checked out half the time. My life felt unstable, I felt unstable. As I think back to that, I can feel the terror, the pain, and the fear. I can feel myself free falling. I felt so alone, and even though I was crying out to God, I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t see him. I felt hopeless, I appeared hopeless…
And then GOD….
A door opened in my favor that gave me an opportunity to move into a home that was in terrible condition. The “bones” were good, but the previous tenants did not take good care of it. Not to be unkind about it, but it was filthy, there was a lot of garbage, dogs and cats had lived there and used the carpets as their personal restroom. The stove was unusable, windows were broken out sticky was everywhere. But when I walked in all I saw was Hope. Hope for me, and Hope for the house.
As I cleaned, and scrubbed, and mopped, and mopped the same floor again, and mopped the same floor yet again, I felt hope rising. I was able to grieve in ways I had not been able to grieve before. I was able to really grieve my son. I was able to really grieve the reality of my relationship. I was able to process more about the situation that began a year ago. It continues, but I feel a shift in my perception of it. As I began to bring life back to the house, it began to bring life back to me. For the first time in quite some time I felt like I had some control over my own life again. I no longer felt lost.
And then GOD whispered HOPE….
Hope for a dream that has been just out of my reach for years, one that I had put to rest but now God has resurrected. As I scrubbed and cleaned breathing life back into this old dirty hopeless home, God breathed life back into my old forgotten dream of a healing home. As I have allowed myself to dream, I have felt God giving me wings of hope. More on that on another day. But for today, I want to breathe words of Hope to others who are struggling.
Hope is not what we sometimes want it to be. Hope is painful, hope is a longing that has not yet been fulfilled and has no guarantee to be filled. Many people shut off the longing of hope and live a life on the “safe” side of things. A life without dreams, a life without meaning, a life with little purpose. But God wants us to enter into hope with Him. This is not a guarantee that you will always get the longing of your heart filled, it means that even amid your shattered dreams He has a plan. One that is bigger than you may understand. If we can hold on to that hope, in time he brings beauty out of the ashes of our shattered lives (Isaiah 61:3).
I say this not out of someone who has read the Bible and is regurgitating the words, I say this out of my own experiences. I say this as someone with learning disabilities who graduated with college honors 3 times (I barley graduated HS). I say this as a survivor of sexual abuse, I say this as a survivor of abusive romantic relationships, I say this as a twice divorced woman who was a single mom for half of her childrens childhood, who finally healed from them, I say this as a woman who has fairly severe PTSD and yet is a certified trauma therapist helping others heal through their trauma.
I say this because I have experienced the rising hope and the fulfilled hope that God can bring into a shattered life. I say this as someone who even now has had another big life blow that threatens to steal from me. But hope hurts, and it comes in “due time” not in my time.
Galations 6:9 Says, “Let us not lose heart in doing Good for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary”. In other words, we will have seasons of opposition. Some are long seasons that last years. Some are shorter seasons that are brutal. But don’t lose the “Embers of Hope” that God has for you. When possible, blow the embers into flames, and when it’s not possible, just let the small embers glow, hold them close to you even in the raging storm. God has promised that He works it all for good if we love Him. Let’s hold tight to that.