Updated: May 19, 2020
By Jenn Soehnlin
God's Brave Women - Jenn's Story
When I learned I was going to become a mother, the excitement was indescribable. I imagined the things I would do with my child, the play dates, the art projects we could do, the books we’d read, and places we would go. When a sweet baby boy was placed in my arms, I was instantly in love and had found a new purpose for my life.
Two years later, we added another precious baby boy to our family. But before I’d even had a chance to get into the swing of being of a mother of two, my two-year-old son received a devastating diagnosis. Within the next two years, both boys would have a dozen diagnoses between them.
My daydreams of motherhood were shattered, replaced with endless therapy appointments, battles with insurance companies and doctors, and an overwhelming loneliness I didn’t know how to handle. My emotional, spiritual, and physical health were deteriorating under the stress. Anxiety and depression took turns settling in and making themselves cozy.
"But what surprised me the most was the crisis of faith I experienced. Where was God? Why would He do this to me and my boys? Was He really a good God, like I had always believed? And scariest of all, was He even real?"
But what surprised me the most was the crisis of faith I experienced. Where was God? Why would He do this to me and my boys? Was He really a good God, like I had always believed? And scariest of all, was He even real? If He was real, He felt far away and silent when I needed Him the most.
One day, the never-ending mountain of laundry and dishes and appointments and worries gave me a panic attack. Seriously. My chest felt tight and my heart pounded. Tears streamed down my face, and I couldn’t catch my breath. My husband suggested I go spend some time by myself. I went gladly, eager to process this overwhelming anxiety with God.
I headed to a nearby beach where I listened to the waves crash on the shore and tasted my warm salty tears. I didn’t even know what to pray about. I expected more silence from God.
Never have I been more thankful to be proven wrong. He whispered one word that broke the silence and banished the anxiety and grief that had gripped my heart for so long.
Embrace what? I wondered. And for the next hour or so, God revealed area after area of my life that I needed to embrace. I wish I had written in at all down at the time, but I don’t think my pen would have flown across the pages fast enough. I was convicted. Encouraged. Loved by the God of the universe.
He would gently remind me of something I needed to embrace fully in my life. Something that I needed to not only accept but cherish. My role as a mother. My husband. My children. This special-needs journey. Myself. And most importantly, God. My perspective was transformed to the biblical, rather than the worldly way of doing things that I’d been trying to do unsuccessfully for years.
"My perspective was transformed to the biblical, rather than the worldly way of doing things that I’d been trying to do unsuccessfully for years."
I don’t know how long I spent on the beach, tears rolling down my cheeks, anxious thoughts stilling, transformation unfolding in my heart. A couple hours at least. I probably could have spent longer, but it started to rain and I headed back home, to where my family was waiting to greet me—to my renewed purpose. For the first time in a long time I felt alive and happy and at peace.
Learning to embrace life when life is hard, when there is grief and pain involved, is a process. It requires a shift in mindset. And it requires bravery to choose to pursue that process. It takes courage to surrender your hopes and dreams and expectations and be able to not only accept but embrace the life God has chosen for you.
"Learning to embrace life when life is hard, when there is grief and pain involved, is a process. It requires a shift in mindset. And it requires bravery to choose to pursue that process. It takes courage to surrender your hopes and dreams and expectations and be able to not only accept but embrace the life God has chosen for you."
After all, Jesus came so that we “would have life, and have it to the full,” (John 10:10.) It may not be the life you imagined or you dreamed of, but it is full of good things if you choose to see and celebrate them.
It takes time to think, pray, and/or journal to discover what things in your life you are fighting against, that God wants you to embrace.
It’s ok to acknowledge that life is hard. That your circumstances are not what you wanted. To ask God your questions. He can handle them.
And when you’re ready, surrender to what God has for you. So many blessings. Lessons to learn that we can share with others. It is in that process of embracing all that God has for you that you can find joy and purpose and spiritual victory, even in the hard circumstances of your life.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
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Jenn Soehnlin is the mother of two young boys who are precious blessings and who both have special needs. She is the author of Embracing This Special Life: Learning to Flourish as a Mother of a Child with Special Needs.