Today’s Pondering~Can’t give up now…
My fiftieth birthday is looming. In about two and a half weeks, I’ll be half a century old. This has been weighing on me a bit. Usually, I don’t think twice about getting older. I feel like the lessons I’ve learned over the years have been well-received and that God has always blessed me with the resources I need, especially in times when I wasn’t sure where my next paycheck was coming from. Lately, though, I’ve been dwelling on whether or not I’ve done enough over these first fifty years. I almost never feel as though I’ve made the impact I’d like to make with the time that God has given me here on Earth. Every time I pray about this, He tells me to look back on the times when I was suffering and see if I can find the patterns that He is able to see. And this is what I have found:
The first ten years of my life, I was blissfully happy. A carefree kid in a “normal” family, living in a small town in Ohio. We had a lot in those days. At least for some of the time. And I was used to getting what I wanted on birthdays and at Christmastime. I was an only child until around age 6 or so and I happily welcomed my little sister into the family right before my sixth birthday. I thought she was amazing then and I still do. By the age of 10, my family moved away from that “happy” life and the rollercoaster began.
The next ten years was a bit more turbulent. For much of the first part of it, I was having trouble adjusting to moving around and having to change schools. I attended six different schools during my fourth grade year. The impact of this was such that by the time I reached the last one, I was so backward and quiet that my classmates thought I was a deaf/mute. The next school year wasn’t much better. I moved at least a couple of times each school year until about the seventh grade. I was so terribly awkward by then that it took me most of high school to finally feel safe talking to others. I remember being so sad when I graduated from high school that I almost couldn’t bear marching to get my diploma. I didn’t want it to end. I had just gotten used to things and now, it was time for another change. Somehow, I graduated and in spite of my original career plans falling through, I made it to age 20. I worked temporary jobs and eventually found time to take some classes at our local community college while I tried to figure out life.
The twenties were something else entirely. I lived with my parents (albeit reluctantly) until I was around 22. I finally moved out after my parents divorced. Things had been a bit of a mess for so long that I took the first opportunity to move into my own place and from there, I was free to do my own damage. And that’s what I did. Not long after I moved out, I ended up being raped by a close friend. Obviously, I hadn’t expected him to do what he had done, and he tried to apologize later on, but that single encounter set a dark tone for the rest of my twenties. I developed a drinking problem and became extremely self-destructive. I was in a deep depression and I didn’t feel as though I had anyone to talk to about what had happened. I carried the weight of the rape with me for years, engaging in stupid behaviors in an attempt to take back my power. Sadly, I never did feel powerful and as I approached my thirties, I had a lot of healing to do.
I didn’t think I could feel more lost than I had felt in my twenties, but my thirties had effectively declared, “Hold my beer!” Both figuratively and literally as it happened. I got married when I was 28 and when I hit thirty, I was starting to feel a little better. I had stopped drinking and carrying on like an idiot and was now facing all of the problems of adulthood with a clear head, but a still-busted heart. For a time, I thought I’d found everything I needed to heal from the damage I’d suffered in past years. I had mistakedly thought that all of the issues I’d faced were because I was somehow unworthy of happiness and that my then-husband had been doing me a big favor by marrying me. That’s no way to enter into a relationship with someone. We were doomed from the start and I hadn’t even noticed. My thirties contained both the best moment in my life and some of the worst. After one miscarriage at age 30, I ended up giving birth to my daughter (who is the greatest love of my life) at age 31. The next few years, however, were a mix of extreme joy at watching her grow and of great sorrow as I miscarried four more times in an effort to grow our family and give her the gift of siblings to enjoy life with. I don’t think I had ever felt like more of a failure than I did when I lost those babies. With each loss it was as though someone was ripping out a piece of my heart. At 35, I told my husband that I was not going to try for any more children. I’d had enough. And a few years later, I’d had enough of him as well. We divorced when I was 38. And my daughter and I began our new life together without him.
By the time I turned 40, I was so ready to be out of my thirties that I would have almost thrown myself a party just to celebrate closing that door. My forties, all nine years of it so far, has been a time for healing and rebuilding. And then some more healing and rebuilding. And finally, more healing and rebuilding and ultimately having the courage to step into my life with a clear understanding that without God, I would never have been able to climb out from under the rubble of all of the destruction I’ve witnessed in my personal bubble. It has taken that entire time to get to a place where I believe I absolutely understand the importance of all that God has taken me through. Even though I began rebuilding my faith in my thirties, it was terribly shaken by the loss of the five children and my marriage. The real progress didn’t happen until I hit my forties. At 45, I had been sure that I’d done all of the necessary healing. But then, at age 47, I was sideswiped by a very long period of unemployment. During that time, I tried and tried to secure a new job and with the onset of the big “pandemic,” my hopes were essentially trampled on as employer after employer rejected my applications. I used the time to learn more about my “other” job…as a publisher.
I’ve been publishing since 2013, but the job was more of a ministry than a money-making venture or anything that would sustain us financially. Although I didn’t grow my bank account, I certainly grew my faith and understanding of how God uses the things that we go through. And the publishing DID and has opened doors here and there. They may not have been full-time or consistent, but they have poured in the resources when they were needed and sustained me just as Elijah was sustained when fed by the ravens who brought him bread and flesh. My provision has always been sent by God and that was never more clear than it has been in the past three years.
When my fiftieth birthday finally gets here, I’m not going to look at it with dread or let my “advanced age” make me feel as though my life is over. I know that the years pass quickly even when we feel that they are dragging us through and hitting every bump along the way. I’m optimistic as I head into what I hope is the last half of my life…unless God really switches things up and gives me another hundred years or so. I’m motivated to do some more healing and learning and growing. I’m hoping that it won’t take me another fifty to get it right and that I will have at least some time to enjoy the life that God gives me. As the song says, “I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me…” There is probably no statement more comforting than this one.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.
If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com and http://www.ronashively.wordpress.com and http://www.highergroundforlife.wordpress.com and http://www.leadingthefollower.wordpress.com. And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com.
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