This story is about a promise I made to myself some years ago, it is about an ending, a beginning and the journey through the middle that brought me to my destination.
We all have defining times in our lives and sometimes those occasions shape the rest of our lives. A season of change started for me when I decided to end a marriage of 32 years for very good reasons but no matter the reasons, divorce is divorce and is not easy any way you look at it.
I will never forget the day I made my “promise”; it is etched in my mind forever. My marriage of 32 years was over and it was time to forge ahead into the future, alone. Scary stuff.
I had married before I was out of high school so in effect I went from my Father’s house to my husband’s house. I had never been alone but I was now- and it was scary. I have to admit that I was not thinking of the wonderful changes and opportunities that God was going to make in my life, or the fact that He was right there beside me, my thoughts were more along the line of, oh my gosh, what is going to happen to me now.
It was a future that as of that moment was a blank slate. I could have looked at it as a black hole and I could have stayed in the victim role indefinitely but I chose to see it as a future that I was finally free to make my own. I had a plan but I wasn’t sure how to implement it. I wasn’t thinking to clearly yet.
I was leaving the past that wasn’t all bad in some aspects, I got my boys out of the deal and they sustained me, and to this day have brought me endless delight and pride, but I was gaining a solitary future that in all honesty terrified and excited me all at the same time. I read all I could about divorce and how to cope and even how to make it a positive experience. The thing is however, the ingredient that was lacking was the knowledge of where the provision for the power to accomplish that would come from. Oh I knew God was there but in the pain and chaos of a divorce, He sometimes seems distant.
Divorce was a scary and uncomfortable place to be, one day you are fine and feeling like you are on the right track, the next day the train derails. However I knew I didn’t want to miss what lay in store as I moved into my future. I had to find a way to take the choice that I made in deciding to divorce, and move it out of the spotlight, I had to try to gain some perspective. I prayed and prayed for something to give me a purpose and a goal to work towards as I walked through this difficult time and I prayed for God to make Himself present, you know the neon billboard thing again. .
So despite the uncertainty, apprehension and stress that filled my days, God was helping me to find a goal that would make me feel worthwhile, to make my future feel more secure and at the same time, fill my days with a purpose to go on. I am not saying I needed more than God, what I am saying is that I needed help in finding that out.
With God at my side I made a “promise” to myself and I asked God to help me achieve it. I vowed to do everything in my power to achieve my “promise” and when my power ran low, I knew God would be right there to recharge me.
It took me about another year and a half to start working on my “promise”, because I would be lying if I said that the time around a divorce is an easy time, no matter who wants the divorce it is a horrendous experience. It was horrible some days, barely manageable some days and some days it was all I could do to get out of bed and keep going. But God uses the most mundane things to give us the get up and go we need to …….well…….get up and go.
Taking responsibility for myself was a whole new experience for me but in tiny measures and one step at a time, I found my footing, my “promise” and the ever growing knowledge that God was beside me. He gave me the incentive to do what I had promised. Suddenly (or not) as the tiny measures accumulated, I realized the value of self-worth and just who this daughter of the King was, I was awakening to the possibilities that lay ahead for me.
It was amazing actually, striving to keep a promise that I had made to myself, that seems such an ordinary promise, millions of people do it, but for me, it was a step into yet another unknown direction and a journey I had to take one step at a time because it was that scary. More steps than I care to admit were in the backward direction. However, soon my “promise” became more than just a “promise” it became a matter of integrity, a measure of trust and reliability, a bull headed determination, a heartfelt feeling of respect for what I was doing and more than a little gratitude for the fact that God was on this mission with me and showing me how to accomplish it. This in turn, added to my feelings of self-worth and my love and respect for my Father God grew. It was all part of the growing into the person God knew I could be. So I grabbed ahold of God’s hand and I marched on to fulfill my “promise”.
It was around that time that I met my husband Earl, I am positive that God brought him into my life for many reasons but a big reason I believe had to do with the promise I made to myself. He gave me the love, support and motivation that I needed to stay the course I had set for myself. If I do say so, he and God made a pretty dynamic team.
Never, ever get comfortable and think things are going to go smooth and you have clear sailing the rest of the way. My Dad was diagnosed shortly after that with Alzheimer’s and so began another scary, heartbreaking and soul wrenching experience I have ever endured.
Yet somehow the “promise” had taken on new meaning and now it wasn’t just a “promise” to myself, it was something I had to do , because life is too short to let dreams die.
Some things we have to let go and watch them blossom and grow, some things we have to let go and watch them take up residence with God and some things shouldn’t be left to wither and die. So it was with my “promise” So I took the cowboy spirit my Dad instilled in me, I took the support of my husband and I took the power of God, and I marched myself back to the road that led to my “promise”
As always there are lessons, of course there are, did you think there wouldn’t be?
I learned a few things on the way to fulfilling my “promise”,
- I had to do the work to see the results. And by work I mean physically, mentally and on my knees. Just a note, I have gotten up at 3 am every morning to achieve this “promise”. Being alone wasn’t easy , watching my Dad wither away wasn’t easy and there were many things that threatened to distract me and threatened to derail my plans. Trying to work a “promise” into the equation of loneliness, fear, no money, frustration and stress felt downright crazy at times and certainly not something I could embark on alone. Many times the inclination was to quit and take the easy way out. It seemed easier at times to just stop struggling, but God kept reminding me of my “promise “and He kept gently nudging me forward.
- When you see results, it makes you stronger. Success begets success, truly it does. As the tiny successes rolled in, my confidence grew and my determination found wings. God has a funny way of taking the tiniest of motivations and turning them into the courage to forge ahead.
- Everyone has the right to their own destiny (the one God gives to each and every one of us). You hear something often enough and you start to believe it (both good and bad). Once the fog cleared however, God wouldn’t let me dwell there, it became apparent that God deemed me worthy of having my own hopes, and dreams and the biggest surprise; He knew I had it in me (as long as He was in the lead) to meet the challenge.
- The biggest lie is the lie of your imperfection. Don’t listen to anyone but the one who created you. None speak the truth quite like the One who loves unconditionally and creates you in His perfect image.
- God never abandons us. Walk on, even if you don’t see, feel or hear Him. I guarantee He is still there. He might just be encouraging you to find the courage to plug into the power that exemplifies who He is, He might be giving you the courage to abandon your fear and He might be giving you the faith that it takes to put your hand in His and walk into the unknown. Take a chance, go with Him.
- Your thoughts can become your reality, be careful where your thoughts rest. Keep your eyes upward, any other focus is a recipe for disaster.
- Problems are not necessarily bad; it is an amazing feeling when you come through the other side of a problem you have solved with the guiding power of our Father. There is a powerful reminder in those situations that God doesn’t simply give power, God IS THE POWER, plug into His power.
- To make my “promise” a reality I had to move in that direction consistently and purposely and with a steady determination. I learned that to be a doer and not simply a talker was as simple as believing in my dream and believing that God was true to His word. Simple does not necessarily equal easy but in this case, it meant moving in a straightforward direction, it meant following where God was leading.
Sometimes I felt like the first pioneers must have felt, I faced criticism not because what I was doing was wrong but because what I was doing was “different at my age…………………excuse me!” I dared to dream, and I found the courage by walking with God into what appeared a stark and barren future, but I walked smack dab into a place where He helped me nurture and grow that dream into reality. He walked me smack dab into a daughter of faith.
Today is a historic day in Dottie Rankin reality, today is the day my “promise “became a reality.
Today I graduated with my Masters Degree in Education.
Thank You God for making my dream come true.
……………..and so I ride