Left Behind

Do you know what it’s like to be left behind? It’s a gut wrenching feeling. It hurts to be left behind by the people that you loved but it’s even worse when life leaves you behind. Unfortunately I’ve been left by both. I can’t say which one hurts worse or which has been harder to cope with but I can say it has made me into a much wiser person and has taught me so much about life. When people leave you behind it teaches you about character. Yes they will shatter your heart but they will teach you a very important lesson. You learn from them and then you can take the lessons they teach you and use them to sculpt yourself into a better person. You then use these lessons when you deal with others in your life. You can make sure you don’t make anyone feel left behind or unworthy. Now when life leaves you behind well that’s a totally different story. You get to watch everything continue on without you. Everybody else’s life continues but you feel as if you have been paused. You are trying to put yourself back together piece by piece and friends are getting married, having babies and finishing school.

The sun will rise and set regardless of you and what you are dealing with. This life lesson teaches you that you have to take care of yourself because when it comes down to it you are all you have. You learn that you can’t control what happens around you, you can only control the way you react to what’s happening. Make sure you react in a way that others can look up to. Don’t react with emotions because emotions are only temporary. React to every situation in life so that others can see the goodness in you. God has a plan for your life but so does the enemy. Be ready for both. Be wise enough to know which one to battle and which one to embrace. It’s hard to decipher between the two but trust me God has a way of showing you as long as you keep an open heart and mind. Remember you hold the power to your life. Nothing can take that power from you. No matter what is standing in your way you can conquer it. Trust me you can. Ive learned how to get out of my own way and Ive learned how to open my mind to the fact that opportunities are only out of my reach if I stand in my way. The real question in life is not whether life exists after death but rather are you truly alive before you die. I believe I am coming alive.

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Fighting Back

There are no shortcuts in recovery. You either fight like hell to try to get everything back that you lost or you are complacent and get back the minimal. Own who you are. Know you are worthy of getting back what you lost. Don’t let the voice in your head saying “It’s too hard” win. Dissect that voice and find out what inside you it is feeding off of because it’s not too hard and you are worth fighting for. The fears we don’t face become our limits. After a traumatic brain injury you are already limited enough, don’t do yourself a disservice and further your limitations. You can conquer anything. I was an athlete before my wreck and I got a high off of lifting weights, running, biking and being active but my strength doesn’t come from any of those things. My strength comes from within. It is defined by how I continue to get up after every time I am sucker punched and knocked down. You have to keep getting up because staying down gets you no where. During these hard times you find out what your made of. I’m made of steel but I still have my softness. You have to have mental strength and toughness to get through. You must know nothing is going to beat you and if one day you don’t do well in therapy then you have to make a promise to yourself that tomorrow you will win the battle you lost today. It’s a war and in war you have many battles. You will win some and lose some. BUT if you are mentally tough I promise you will win more than you lose. You just have to tap into that reserved strength and take back your life.

I am my grandfather’s granddaughter

There will come a time in your life where you have to make a choice. Do you stay on the path you’re on or do you decide to pave a new one?.. Well I decided neither. I decided it is time for me to break out of the cage that I have trapped myself in. Yes I have my issues and I struggle daily but does that really mean I now have to forfeit the future I had planned for myself? No it doesn’t. I am letting go of everything that has tried to control me or beat me down. I am redefining myself. I have been given this great gift of being “new” and starting over. Yes it could’ve come in a much nicer less painful package but that’s ok I’m pretty tough. I have been like bamboo during my storm.. Constantly bending but not breaking. Even when the strong gust of wind comes out of nowhere and I was for sure I was going to snap I didn’t. I snapped back better than ever. I am now taking my true form. Like a Phoenix I have risen from my ashes of despair and now I’m ready to rise above the shallow ruins of my past life. I no longer fear. I have hidden life inside me and I have made my own light while I waited in the darkness that threatened to swallow my soul. Death wanted to take me but I fought back. I escaped his grasp. Now I will rise. I will shine. Don’t underestimate me because I promise I am more powerful than ever before. I am unstoppable.

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The lake

I recently witnessed a minor fender bender while I was waiting at a stoplight by my house. It happened close enough to my car that I could hear the tires screech and the crunch of metal. I take pride in the fact that I am a strong person and I don’t let my emotions easily break me but on this day I completely broke. I was immediately engulfed with flashbacks from June 11, of the chaos and everything spinning as my car flipped before everything went black. I don’t remember much from that day but those few seconds I do remember are enough to break me when they return. Once I got a green light I immediately pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot so I could calm down, except I didn’t calm down. I started crying like I never have before. It felt so real. Everything was completely raw, as if I had just had my wreck. After I stopped crying and composed myself, I drove to the lake. The same lake I was headed to on June 11, the day of my wreck. It’s funny but this is the one place where I truly feel at peace. It’s the place where I should’ve lost my life but for some reason it calms me.

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Querencia is a place where a person draws their strength from, where one feels at home; where you are your most authentic self. I believe the lake is my querencia. Obviously God is where I draw my true strength from and when I am with Him in prayer that is when I truly feel at home. But for me the lake is where I go to pray and think about life. So the lake is now like my church. I go there to thank God for everything he has done for me but to also appreciate life, the life I should’ve lost. Even though my life is now different, I still have breath in my lungs and by a miracle I was able to get back my cognitive functions at a level the doctors said was impossible. But like many other times over the past 4 years God intervened and showed me He isn’t done with me yet. Hope is still rising for me.

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Fear can keep us focused on our past but if we acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Today we are still alive and our bodies are working. This is something I acknowledge and appreciate everyday. It is easy to take things for granted when you have never experienced life without but I was given the gift of new life and new appreciation for this life. I almost lost everything. My life should’ve been taken from me and now I know what it is like to be without the simplest cognitive and bodily functions. We have to appreciate that today our eyes can still see the beautiful sky and our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones. He has commanded us to not be afraid and to not be discouraged, because He is always with us. Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live. I told myself from the beginning that the first chance I had to drive I was going to, I was going to get back on the horse and not let fear stop me. And the first time I had the chance to drive through the intersection, I should’ve lost my life in, I took it. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I had God’s protection and I knew He wasn’t done with me, so I had to start defeating the demons of fear that stood in my way. So I did, one by one. Stop letting fear rule your life. Go out and seize it.

Unyielding faith

It’s said that God can change your life in a moment well I fully believe that he can because he has profoundly changed mine. It’s all about His timing. I feel as if now it’s too late for me to do the majority of things I had planned or pictured for my life. I’ve had many disappointments in the things that I thought were Gods plan or the reason why the wreck happened but I’ve learned to embrace the uncertainty of life. I’ve realized we all have chapters in our lives that we don’t read out loud or we only share those chapters with the people we truly love and let down our walls for. In the end though some of the best chapters don’t get a title until much later.

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Every morning when I wake up I make the choice to continue. I make the choice to find the silver lining in every situation. Happiness is a choice. We have the right to pursue happiness but it is not a gift given to you. It’s incredibly hard to wake up every morning and have to be reminded of what has happened and then to make the choice to continue and not have the story stop here. The good news is it has gotten a bit easier thanks to my short term & long term memory loss. See silver lining. It gets a bit easier every day because some things I slowly forget or I forget the real impact they once had on me. Yes this may sound twisted but unfortunately that’s my truth. This is how I have survived.

Learning to yield:

There are certain things I will fortunately never forget. Some things, and some people, are written in my soul and on my heart with permanent ink. I’m grateful for this because it has helped me slowly evolve into the person I believe I’m supposed to be. It’s been a slow evolution but I think I am on the right path. I’ve done so much thinking and reading during this time trying to find the answers but I’ve come up blank. I’m giving everything up to God and trusting in Him because clearly I don’t know the future anymore. The future I had planned didn’t turn out and now it’s time for me to repaint the picture in my mind. Every time someone hears my story and what has happened on my path of recovery they usually make a comment about it not being fair. Well the thing is life is not fair. If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair then you have some rough days ahead of you. Trust me I know. The only person who is going to give you security and the life you want is YOU. You must have confidence in yourself but more importantly confidence in God and his plan for your life. He created you in His image so therefore you should be confident in Him and yourself. He made no mistakes when creating you. That’s probably one of my biggest breakthroughs during the past 4 years. I can’t control anything. As hard as I may try its out of my hands. Everyday is full of choices make the right ones. When the roots are deep there is no reason to fear the wind.

Fully exposed

Once you are stripped down to nothing what’s really at your core? Who are you? What do you stand for? I don’t know the answers. Do you know the answers for yourself? These are some of the questions I have asked myself during my time of recovery. I’ve just been trying to get a grasp on life again. Trying to reset myself so I can understand. Can you imagine your life with out certain people? Without past memories? Certain material things? Or without a healthy body? It’s difficult to imagine. I was for sure the loss of certain people who I loved more than myself or with the loss of my old “normal” I wouldn’t survive. But I have survived. There is a place in all of us that is used as a reserve of strength. We can tap into this reserve when we have reached our edge and we are looking over the cliff debating whether or not it’s time to step into the darkness.

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When we question ourselves we must identify where we are headed and who or what we are holding on to. Do you prefer to be in solitude so you can firmly plant your roots and grow into the person you wish to become or do you want to completely bare your soul to someone and risk your heart on love so you can have a companion on your journey through life? Someone to be there and support you as you grow into the person you are meant to be. I choose the latter. I want to have someone who I can enjoy life with. I believe it takes courage to risk your heart on love but there is a major reward that comes with it. You have someone to share life with and someone who strengthens you. What defines our strength? Is it giving second chances to people & learning to forgive or is it overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles that stand in your way? I have yet to find the answer to this question because I have learned a person’s mental and physical strength is much more complicated than to be just defined by one situation.

Love conquers:

Unfortunately I think pride and selfishness get muddled in together with strength. But that’s simply not true. Selfishness and pride coincide with cowardliness. Cowards are weak. Don’t let your weaknesses consume you and who you really are. Cowards are scared to love and that is a true loss for them because if there is one thing I have learned during these past four years it is you have to have love to survive. Love can conquer anything. It strengthens you and helps you become the person you want to be. Love is the safety net we all need. I have had to learn how to remain sensitive yet still have a tough exterior. I must keep my softness and remain sensitive because that’s truly who I am at my core and I don’t want that part of me to be changed. I refuse to let my hardships make me bitter, instead I want to create beauty with these ashes by helping others. But I have to wear my tough exterior everyday so I can survive and protect myself from anymore harm. I feel as if I am standing on the edge and there isn’t much more I can take so I must protect myself. I wear my scars the best I can. I try to hide my fear with a smile and a brave face.

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If or when you come to the point of not knowing if you can continue to move forward know you can continue. It will be hard. It will be the hardest thing you will ever do but you can do it. I have struggled with it but I have learned to release the control I thought I had and I have given my struggles to God. Do not be afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for this battle is not yours, but God’s. You can overcome any obstacle, loss or heartbreak as long as you refuse to give up. Embrace your struggles, embrace being on the edge and not knowing which way you are going to go from here. Out on the edge you can see the true beauty of life and see all the wonders that you can not see from the center. Embrace this new perspective. Put your armor on every morning so you can continue to fight because your story does not end here. Your time is now.

The fight

I’m not going to lie to you my journey towards recovery has been hard. There is no reason for me to sugarcoat anything because that would be an injustice to you and myself. Truth of the matter is you are going to have to fight like hell. There are going to be days where giving up will be the much easier choice, BUT the good news is it’s totally worth the struggle. We have to fight the toughest battles for the best days of our lives. This I can 100% vouch for. You just have to do it. You must force yourself to get up every morning and keep going. You just have to put one foot in front of the other and refuse to let the pain get to you. On this journey you will cry till your eyes are swollen and curse like a sailor. But in the end you have made it through another day and you are one step closer to your goal.

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Until you are broken you don’t know what you are made of. I had to learn this the hard way. I now have to protect myself and I’m less trusting than I used to be but that’s what happens when you’ve fought your way back from Hell. Sometimes I just switch off. Something just happens and my mind goes black. It starts off peaceful but then turns to panic because I’m not sure when the light will come back on. Every time this happens I sink deeper and deeper into the darkness. I think it’s because I’m tired. Tired of holding it together and holding back the tears. I’m tired of feeling nothing but at the same time feeling everything. I feel trapped. I’m locked behind a glass door and I see everything that’s happening on the outside but I can’t participate. I’m screaming and banging “Help! I’m still in here!” as I watch people pass by but they never notice me. It’s maddening being trapped inside your own mind. With each year that has passed I’m slowly breaking free but it’s been a horrible struggle.

Change your perspective:

There are days I want to go back and rewrite the past. Change the structure of events that have happened but there is a reason why everything happens. This is a hard concept to grasp but I fully believe in it. There has to be a reason why I’m still here. There must be a greater purpose for my life and it’s now up to me to find it. I have had to change my way of thinking and learn to find the silver lining in every situation. I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become and right now I am deciding just that. Do I continue to follow the plan I had made for myself before my world came crashing down? Or do I look for something else? Right now I don’t know the answer. But I do know I am a survivor and even when the moment seems like it’s going to break me it won’t. I’m stubborn as a mule and I know what I want. I know better things are coming I just have to continue to put on my brave face even when I’m terrified on the inside because the only way I’m going to achieve my purpose is by putting one foot in front of the other. One baby step at a time.

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The one who falls or stumbles is much stronger than the one who never fell. Because the one who fell gets to find out the true strength of his character and gets the chance to improve himself and see life from a new perspective. We were born to be real NOT perfect. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough or that you need to step up to the plate and stop being “weird.” Not everyone is going to understand your journey and that is perfectly ok they don’t have to. This is for you. Let me say that again this is for YOU. Do it for yourself because that is the only way you will actually succeed. You can’t do it for anyone else. The mountains on your back that have been slowly weighing you down were meant to be climbed. Appreciate these hardships for they are molding you into a better person. I know mine have definitely molded me into a better person. Even when you don’t understand just trust and know you were meant for this. You have every tool you need to conquer whatever it is you are battling. Try to enjoy the process as it is making you into the person you were born to become. Remember your best days are just around the corner.

Unanchored

Feeling unsure and lost is a part of the journey or so they tell me. I tend to always feel lost and unsure of where I’m going or what I’m doing. I value most the things I have lost. Because what I’ve lost will always be perfect in my mind. The lost will remain the dreams of what could have been. They will never rust or break. In my head they will remain perfect. But nothing and no one is perfect. We are all made up of flaws and imperfections. You can’t give up because your situation isn’t ideal. Sometimes I still wonder why things happened the way they did but I have to stay silent because no one would understand the chaos in my head. If I did bring life to the chaos in my mind by speaking I would reopen the scars on my heart and those scars would unleash pain I simply can not handle again.

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I can’t even keep track of the thoughts buzzing around in my mind..all the why’s & how’s? My heart is tired. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of feeling the hole in my chest. I want to go somewhere and scream as loud as I can. I want to pull my heart out and throw it. I want to feel nothing. I’m tired of fighting. Don’t judge me for feeling this way. You don’t know what it takes for me to get out of bed and put a smile on my face. I feel like I’m standing on the edge of giving up and seeing how much more I can take. My brain has no heart and my heart has no brain. I sometimes speak in a heartless way and do things as if I’m thoughtless because to me my world is upside down. I don’t know what’s up or down anymore. I feel as if I live in another dimension. I just want to understand why. Such a simple question but one that is so hard to find the answer to. Why? Seriously why? It’s hard to go on when you can’t understand the why. I don’t cry because I’m weak. I cry because I have been strong for too long.

Keeping it simple:

Life’s most challenging times come right before the best days of your life. I have learned this lesson to be true. That’s why you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and hold on. Trust me you can do it. Just keep it simple. Don’t overthink it or you will get overwhelmed. Take it day by day, hour by hour. That is how I survived the past four years. I feel as though I have been made new after the wreck. I have been given new eyes. I literally had all memories, life skills & life knowledge erased. I have had to relearn every aspect of life. Few saw my descent and saw me at my lowest in the hospital and on my long journey through rehab and therapy. But now comes the best part you get to see me rise. I have found myself. I have fire in my eyes and I am without fear. I have already died. I have experienced my worst fears and I have had my dreams crushed. What’s left to be scared of? I have within me everything I need to continue. I don’t need anyone’s acceptance or approval. I have learned to be my own best friend.

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There are two types of pain, one that hurts you and one that changes you. I have dealt with both. I am forever changed in the best possible way. I have shed my past skin and I’m now ready to move forward. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself. What I’ve been through doesn’t define me and although the it has tried to destroy me it has come up short. I’m still here. I’ve chosen to stay and fight the darkness, sadness, and to fight the endless questions in my mind of all that’s missing. There is still time for things to turn around. There is still time for surprises. I made the decision to stay and fight because no one can play my part. Life is worth living and I want to see tomorrow. You have to fight. God has a purpose for your pain and a reason for your struggle. I know He will give me beauty for ashes. Just remember the greater your storm the brighter your rainbow. Keep on fighting to get out of the dark. Hope is rising and hope is the only thing stronger than fear. I know I will get my fire back. It’s not over until God says it’s over. And it’s not over yet.

Inner turmoil

Hungry for answers I need to know the truth. Why did this happen? Could I have prevented it? Is this karma? Is death going to come back again? Some of the questions I would ask myself over and over. I was for sure that since I beat death five times that it would come back to claim me. He would come back to fix the mistake. To try to understand my thought process during this time is like trying to understand a different world. I have a madness that lives inside me now. It continuously searches for answers. It goes through all the Hows and Whys. Why did the wreck happen? How can I not remember anything? How will I have a future like this? How will I ever be able to move forward and achieve the “perfect” picture I had painted in my mind for my own family and future?

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I’ve learned a lot these past four years. I’ve learned things don’t always work out the way you plan or you think they are going to. I’ve also learned that sometimes things go wrong or get broken that can’t be fixed and you have to be okay with it. You have to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. And sometimes you have to break your own heart and walk away from things you once thought you couldn’t live without because you finally realize you deserve better. You have to learn to live in the new normal. You have to live for today because you now know that tomorrow isn’t promised. Goodbyes hurt when you know the story wasn’t finished. I wasn’t finished but God had different plans for my story. Having to wake up feeling like an Alien in my own body and not recognizing myself when I looked in the mirror or at photos was definitely the hardest goodbye & most frightening hello. I had to say hello to my new life and body and grieve the girl I used to be. Losing my memories and having no choice in the matter was a hard pill to swallow. It’s difficult to accept when things are taken from you and you have no say in the matter. You can’t have a do over. There is no reset button. I will always try to fill the void in my mind. I will continuously search for the lost memories. I will try my best to fill the emptiness that has been left inside my heart and mind. But I can now see the sun even on my darkest days and I have found the magic that has been hidden in this new beginning.

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I learned to not try to make sense of my madness or the new structure of chaos that lived inside my mind. I’m learning to love the new me and to accept what is. I’ve had to learn to celebrate, compliment and encourage myself on my road to recovery. I had to face the harsh reality and realize it’s all up to me. Encouragement comes from the inside. Happiness comes from the inside. Happiness is the way you are and how you think. You have to make the choice to be happy. To think positively about yourself and your future. I thought like many others that I needed to find my happiness but really all I had to do was find the real me. I’m slowly learning more about myself day by day. The things I thought would kill me haven’t and the people I thought would be with me forever aren’t so I have had to reevaluate. I’ve realized I’m an odd combination of really sweet and don’t mess with me. I have also realized I deserve the best for myself and with that piece of knowledge I won’t stop till I achieve what I was meant to achieve.

Believe in yourself:

I was given this journey for a reason. I was meant to hit rock bottom to find and reclaim my true self. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid it means you have looked fear in the face and decided to move ahead anyways. It means you didn’t let fear stop you. There’s been plenty of times I wanted to curl into a ball and cry because the flashbacks/memories are like bullets that tear me apart and leave me in pieces. But I patched my wounds up and kept going. The world will move on regardless of you. The sun will rise and set regardless of your struggles and hardships. Learn to believe you are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough and most importantly you ARE strong enough to defeat whatever it is you are battling. It will be hard at first to believe this of yourself because I’ve been working four years on it and I still don’t fully believe it BUT you must fake it until you finally believe it. If your story is anything like mine it hasn’t been calm its been quite chaotic and that’s the true beauty of it. For that chaos has revealed the true depth of my soul. You are made up of the stories within you. Now it’s time to reread them and discover the quiet depth in you.

The reason

Everything happens for a reason. There is no such thing as a coincidence. God has had His hands heavily involved in your life before you were even born. There is a reason He has put you through your struggles and hardships, there is a much deeper purpose. In John 9, Jesus was asked by His disciples “why the man on the street was blind, what caused his blindness?” Jesus answered “You are asking the wrong question. You are looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” Jesus healed the mans blindness by putting mud on his eyes and telling him to wash in the pool of Siloam. From the text we can infer the reason the man was born blind was so that God could be glorified. The same can be said for whatever struggle or hardship you are dealing with right now. I know that is why I went through my wreck and hardships. God has used my severe traumatic brain injury to reset or restart me.

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He took me back to the beginning where I had to relearn everything, so I could be shown once again the power He has. I was taken back to literally the beginning when I didn’t have words, language or any understanding of what was happening around me. Words.. What are they? Language what the heck is that? Simple questions I didn’t know the answers too. Holidays.. What are those? How do you put clothes on? How do you brush your hair or teeth? All very complicated questions and tasks for me in the beginning. Have you ever had to go back to the beginning and restart something, maybe a work project or a paper because your computer crashed? Well it’s a very frustrating process. I believe that sometimes in life we have to have our world ripped out from under our feet and we have to hit rock bottom because there is something down there we are supposed to find. For me I’m still not sure exactly what I was meant to find but I know I have found and reclaimed my inner strength and my faith.

Defining moments:

Two things define you in life. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. I believe I have a new set of skills when it comes to patience because I have had to rebuild myself from the ground up. Relearning what clothes are, what language is, how to walk, how to swallow, how to talk & how to trust that God will get me through. It all begins and ends in your mind. If you don’t want to conquer whatever obstacle is in front of you then you won’t. I was determined to conquer so I gave power to the thoughts in my mind that told me “You can & You will.” To trust God in the light is nothing. Learn to put all your trust in him when you are in the dark. When you have nothing He will give you everything.

He has been with me from day one. Even when I thought I didn’t have the strength to continue He showed me where to look within myself to find it. He also taught me not to question His plan for me. I have thought many times my life was over. My heart has been shattered and my trust has been severely broken but even when I laid in bed crying He was always by my side, holding me and telling me “Everything will be ok. You just have to stay committed and keep moving forward. There are great things awaiting you.”

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I believe the reason for my wreck and everything that followed after, was to show the power of God and to glorify Him. He brought me back to life five times and He restored me. There is a greater purpose for me now. I believe His purpose for me is to use me to speak of His amazing grace & love. He wants me to be courageous in telling my story, and wants me to help others who are or have also struggled see there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just like Corrie ten Boom said “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggle and a reward for your faithfulness. Trust Him and don’t give up.. There are great things awaiting you, once you get through your storm.