I've had a very broken journey. I was divorced, and I spent about eight years as a single mom before I remarried. At the time, my children were young. The youngest was three, the oldest was ten. This was not the life I intended, would have chosen, would do over, or would give to anybody.
In my brokenness I had a couple of choices. I could choose to allow bitterness to take over, and it would have been easy to rationalize that because things hadn't been fair. I'd been hurt and desperately wounded. Things really hadn't gone that well for me. I had maybe a hundred reasons to allow bitterness to go down inside me and settle in there. Even my friends sometimes said things like "Girl, if I were you I'd still be mad." They encouraged me to make that choice.
But somehow the Lord got ahold of me in some of those darkest years and began to speak to me the truth of his Word. I had a broken home, broken children, a broken marriage, and an awful mess, and even after my divorce, ongoing awfulness. Every day was incredibly hard. So the question became, Will I live in that? Or how now will I live for the glory of God, given this limp I have?
One of the very first ways I knew the Lord was prompting me was that I had to deal with my propensity to allow bitterness to settle in. The sooner I could choose the joy of Christ to fill that place bitterness was trying to fill, the sooner we were going to get on down the road. So for me it was a choice I felt I had to make.
The Lord prompted me initially with my children. For goodness sake, we lived in this broken home and in a place none of us had wanted. But how much more powerful would it be for the spiritual and mental health of my children if they lived with a mom who was redeemed as opposed to the mom I had been, the one who was just this empty shell of a person counting her bitterness?
I came to find out that I set the tone for my home. I'm it. My kids can come in with a bad attitude or grumpy, but God has given me, as a mom, an amazing role of redirecting. I get to send them down to their rooms for a little while. I'm in charge of the tone of my home. And if I'm a mess, they're going to be a mess. If I'm trusting the Lord for joy I can't feel but put my hope in, they're right there with me.
When I understood what a great responsibility it was, what God had entrusted to me with the four children, I thought, I'll do whatever hard work I have to do to get to the next high place in my salvation with the Lord, to the next step up in my maturity, because they need it. Because they believed me when I said, "We trust the Lord! Our hope is in the Lord!" For all my children, faith has become their own. But in those young years, I had the privilege of showing them what choosing joy looked like, feel like, and sounded like. I determined what it would be like over cereal, at the breakfast table, what it would be like at night when I tucked them in, and what it would be like in another five years. That was both my responsibility and my privilege. As I got myself straightened out with the Lord, I had something to give them.