By: Susan Deborah Schiller
A little part of my own memoir…
My husband and I were invited to manage a ranch, that they wanted turned into a House of Prayer. Stepping foot into the sprawling, 5,000 sq ft barn-turned-into-a-house, we took the bull by its horns and began cleaning and decorating the newly constructed "winter home" which we were to live in, as ranch managers. The ranch owners wanted us to create a "House of Prayer". So we worked hard to clean and decorate the house, naming it, "The Upper Room."
People with serious needs began seeing this house as the "emergency room" and at all hours of the day and night it wasn't unusual for both friends and strangers to show up, asking for help.
We never turned anyone away. In between guests, we took care of dozens of horses and 100 cows and bulls. I quickly learned to saddle up and ride… plus fork hay twice a day!
It began to feel like a dream-come-true for a little while. Two of my adult children arrived, along with my beautiful granddaughter. My husband's son came to live with us, also, and later my own son moved in. My heart began to leap with joy, just to have young people around us!
I had a corner office overlooking the hayfield, which my granddaughter alternately turned into a "post office" or a "beauty shop" or a "school" and we played games together that will forever remain in my heart's memory.
It was hard work but there were so many benefits… the beauty and majesty of horses, the starry desert at night, the sea of green alfalfa waves dancing in the wild Wyoming winds. Both of my children were healed of threatening illnesses shortly after their arrival in Wyoming.
We had some incredible adventures together. One of our favorites was hiking up Sinks Canyon, in Lander. At the top was a huge waterfall with the purest, best-tasting water you can imagine!
We played together and we worked together. That's what brought so much joy to my heart! I remember my daughter's willingness to get down in the mud and pick up irrigation pipes.
My granddaughter came home from school at 4 pm, so that's when we would do afternoon chores. Together, she and I would feed the horses and fork hay to the cows.
I'll always remember the moment when she looked up at me and said, "Gramma, this doesn't look like Chicago, does it?" I replied, "Nope, it doesn't. Which do you like best?" She grinned and said, "I like it here!"
We didn't know it at first, but our lives were about to forever be changed.
Life is beautiful but it's not always kind. It's good to remember both the good and the bad. It's all part of who we are today. There's a season for pain and a time to be healed. There's a season for joy and a time for grief.
We get over our grief not by forgetting, but by remembering.
Some memories are toxic. We had a big, long series of that kind of memory in this period of our life story. At the height of my hope for the future, it arrived like a tsunami wave.
Grief often arrives without warning. I call this snapshot, "The Widow Maker." A widow is a woman who has been left behind, either by death of a spouse or an absentee spouse. My husband decided to leave that summer… with no plans to return.
Like many of the women I know, we wrestle over and over with the "what if's" and we shift responsibility onto ourselves. We keep pondering how we might change ourselves so that our husbands will want to share their world with us.
The startling answer was to come much later. My husband explained to me, "I hate all women. Not just you."
Sometimes you have to release the person who is ready to move on. You can't hold them, but you can continue to love them from a distance.
Our memories are part of who we are. Even the memories of hard times are essential to get our lives back.
But be careful. The toxic memories need to be disarmed; otherwise they are like hidden landmines that can bring lasting danger and harm! You can't just "forgive and forget" in the case of abuse. You definitely want God's special touch, His Word, spoken into that area of your mind. These memories leave chemical trails in our physical brains. We need God's help!
My husband once told me, "I'm not going to divorce you. I just want to watch you suffer. You're going to see what you missed."
That's heavy duty toxic waste. You don't just HEAR words like that. You FEEL them to the depths of your being! The negative forces seep into your bones! First there is shock, closely followed by trauma. It creates physical and lasting changes in your body unless you know how to heal yourself.
Time does not heal all wounds. Sometimes Time makes it worse.There is a way to make the pain go away!
We can't go back and erase or change history. But we can reframe our memories of the past, removing the stingers.
I remember hearing my Heavenly Father's voice, saying, "Saddle up your horse and get ready to ride. It's the ride of your life!"
My Father God helped me to safely disarm this memory, removing the ticking bomb. No more victim mentality. We replace the bad with GOOD!
God gave me a new picture, one where He and I rode together, and it was so much more beautiful than I ever imagined! I heard Him say one day, "Saddle up your horses and get ready to ride – the ride of your life!" That invitation came long before my ranching days eventually arrived. It was a wedding invitation, for He asked me to be his bride… an intimacy that is far greater than any human relationship.
The Church as the Bride
The portion in Revelation 19:7-10 describing the marriage scene in which the Bridegroom makes His Bride His wife, is worthy of full consideration. A woman, of course, only becomes a wife on the completion of her marriage to the man to whom she has been engaged or espoused. In this age of Grace, the church is the affianced Bride of Christ. At the marriage of the Lamb, she becomes His wedded wife (). – , ; BibleGateway.com.
Death of a marriage is a grief that carries a higher level of stress than physical death of a loved one. There is no funeral. No memorial service. No eulogy. No coffin. No burial. No cards. No flowers. No phone calls. Your bereavement goes unseen.
When the divorce comes through betrayal, even after years of psychological torture, there is a deeper layer of mourning. For you grieve the loss of the dream. It's the dream of "potential" that you causes you to believe in something that was never meant to be. It's the dream itself that must be laid to rest.
The lies you believed… so many lies… they have to be faced, one by one. One story at a time.
What did people do before we had universities and careers in counseling and therapy? We told our stories! We sat with each other and listened from our hearts. In the sharing of our stories, both ancient and present, we discovered who we are as individuals and as a Body. We felt our Oneness with each other and the rest of the world, and most of all with our Creator. We actively REMEMBERED!
Grieving is not forgetting; it's remembering. The good and the bad. But the "bad" needs to be disarmed, or it becomes a ticking time bomb.
In "soul recovery" we sort through our mind's story and photo albums. We disarm them by re-labeling them with what God says about our lives. We then saturate our minds with all the positive images and thoughts He shows us.
Your story matters, because it's your legacy.
Time does NOT heal all wounds. But it does take TIME to recover our souls. It takes a little bit of effort. It takes someone to listen to you as you sort and process your memories!
Yep, it's time to Cowgirl Up!
I used my own story as an example here… I'm saturating the memory with GOOD images! We can be grateful for so many things, even in the midst of the WORST times of our lives. Remembering the good AND the bad is one key to moving forward, to getting beyond the pain.
You cannot deny pain, but you can disarm it, with God's help!
There may be tears – it's okay! It's going to be all right. You might want to do this with a friend. You may want to seek a counselor or therapist to help you.
The important thing is to TELL YOUR STORY!
You don't have to be a professional writer. One sentence at a time. It's your story and only you can tell it. It's your life and if you don't tell your story, it's quite likely that someone else is already doing it for you!
You don't have to do it publicly, as I've done here… My purpose in sharing publicly is to be a friend to those who are suffering in silence. These memories don't hurt me anymore because they are safely defused through reframing and filed away with gratitude!
I realize I've only shared my side of the story, but that's what we do in memoirs and everyone understands we are sharing the story of our own lives. That's the only side of the story are supposed to share! That's the story you own the rights to. It's part of your inheritance… your legacy… the treasure you are sharing with your world.
Right now it may be hard to imagine that your present troubles are "momentary" and will one day be swallowed up in great joy… but a sneak peek of the joy is yours for the experience as you write to freedom.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, – James 1:2
You can count on this: On the other side of your greatest tribulation is your greatest treasure. Your best life is being created right now, as you "count it all joy".
Cowgirl up! Be you. Live free. Tell your story!
With all my love,
Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
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