God's Brave Women - Erin's Story
When I was little I dreamed of having a family of my own, which naturally included me being swept off my feet like Cinderella. I imagined holding and caring for babies that would live healthy abundant lives. We’d grow old in a story that wasn’t perfect but was full! Full of love with a bond that could not be broken, and I never even entertained the idea that it would EVER be broken. I was living that dream at the ripe age of twenty-two. This year, fourteen years later, that dream has been stripped away.
In those early years, I found that being swept off my feet also came with difficult challenges. It came with hard conversations about how to spend money and how to work as a team when we each wanted our own way. Holding and caring for babies came with me wanting more and feeling exhausted at the end most days… more than I want to admit. My life was not perfect, but I still thought it was full of the love I longed for. Soon I found myself being consumed with comparison. I’d compare my life to others, wishing I was living more Pinterest-y moments. Wishing I could do it all. If I could just follow some sort of formula my kids would turn out ok, my marriage would make it through, my house would eventually be all I imagined, I would actually start to like cooking, and we’d live in close community like the biblical model of Acts 2. I just needed to follow the formula…
But in my current uncertain season, I’m learning listen to my gut. I’m learning to stop assuming the best and really look at reality. For a long time, I created a coping mechanism and tried to ignore what was really going on. I tried to not ask the hard questions when they need to be asked. If I assumed the best, then I didn’t have to deal with the actuality of where my marriage really was… or where my thoughts went when I wanted to escape… or what was really going on in my kids’ worlds. Facing the truth in my circumstances has helped me see clearly. Even though I feel pulled in so many directions, especially as a mom, I know I needed to stretch. However, it’s still exhausting. Sometimes when I feel like I’ve gone beyond my limits, I don’t want to persevere and wait. I want the slow cooker of my life to hurry up like an Instapot! But I’ve had to remind myself (and so many others in my life) that my situation isn’t black and white. It’s a whole lot of messy gray and the only healthy way through is right through the middle of the mess. And that is where I am today.
"But I’ve had to remind myself that my situation isn’t black and white. It’s a whole lot of messy gray and the only healthy way through is right through the middle of the mess."
One year ago, I was on the beach at one of the most incredible weekends of my life, a Holy Yoga Retreat. As I sat on the beach, hours before heading back to my family, I asked God for one thing He wanted me to go home with. I sensed Him saying, “I’m going to take you on a love adventure.” What I hoped that would mean and what actually happened were polar opposites. This year has been a year of being stripped down… to rock bottom. My marriage is in tangles, I’m separated from my husband, I’ve lost my job, and I’ve entered into a season of grief like I’ve never known. On paper my life looks like a wash, such a mess that I ask myself how in the world is this my life right now! It has felt like a nightmare, one where I want someone to pinch me so I can wake up from this horrible dream. Yet, even in the midst of my life’s realities, how it’s changed and flipped completely upside-down… I still see God’s hand. I see how He’s made me brave.
"It’s brave to stop. To not try and do it all. To see our brokenness and receive help."
Those first steps of being brave meant facing the fact that we needed help. I NEEDED help. Taking steps to listen to friends who recommended counseling for us, taking a year away from our ministry to be developed and breathe, taking time to dig into some core issues I wanted to ignore instead of pushing life forward. It’s brave to stop. To not try and do it all. To see our brokenness and receive help. When we are brave and look at the root issues and believe in God’s ability to carry us through, He will not leave us in our wanting more. He will not disappoint us, and in turn, He will begin to give us our deepest desires. Looking back over the past four years, I can see how God was preparing me for my current reality. He has shown me that the more I trust Him with my life and the more I walk with Him through the mess, the more I will live the life I longed for as a little girl. I am being swept off my feet. But this time, it is by the only One who truly can.
I guess it’s true. He is taking me on our own Love adventure after all.
Erin Butler is Minnesota-raised but has been living in the Sunshine State (FL) for 4 years now. After being in ministry for thirteen years, she has found herself beginning a new chapter, starting with her newest adventure as an ambassador for Noonday Collection. It is bringing to life so many areas she’s passionate about including sisterhood, business, and self-acceptance. She loves being a part of providing dignified sustainable work for those in developing countries, and it also allows her to be present for her very active grade-schoolers; Lucy (11), Brady (9) and Heidi (6). She is also pursuing a career as a freelance Graphic Designer. Beyond that, you can find her doing Holy Yoga, enjoying coffee with a friend or listening to podcasts! To connect with Erin and learn more about her work, check out her website @ErinB.Co