Turning unbelievable pain into incredible purpose

Earlier this week, someone asked me the question: “When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

Over the years my answers changed. I wanted to be a police officer, a fire fighter, a mail (wo)man, a teacher and an astronaut. Eventually I settled on a “Lemonade,” which I thought was a person who ran a lemonade stand. A Lemon-aide. Get it? No? Yeah — me either. But I did have some pretty lucrative lemonade stands as a kid.

Even as I got older, my answer as to what I wanted to be when I grew up changed. Or really, it stalled. In college, all my friends seemed so sure of the paths they had taken, or so it seemed. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses. But I was still unsure.

Eventually, I found my calling in television. Looking back I’ve always wanted to be a news anchor. I loved watching the news growing up. My sister and I even set up an pretend news desk in our room when we were kids, threw on my step-dad’s old blazers, grabbed some coffee cups and in 3…2…1 we were live. One time we “reported” in a hurricane holding hairbrushes as microphones and made my brother “blow away” behind us in a bright yellow poncho. Yes there is video somewhere, and no you will not see it.

The purpose of this post though isn’t to reminisce about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Instead, it’s about our purpose in life. God’s purpose for us.

Grief is overwhelming. It’s the most unimaginable pain in the world. It’s as if someone ripped your heart out, stomped on it and then hands it back to you, but there is a giant piece missing. An incredible ache that will never go away.

I spent many dark, sad and lonely nights pleading with God to “just take the pain away. ” There were so many times where I didn’t think I would survive the night because the pain was too much to bear.

But what if there is a purpose in that pain?

Hear me out — I do NOT mean “everything happens for a reason.” If one more person tells me that, I may ACTUALLY punch them in the face. (Grief is ugly remember?) But this pain cannot be for nothing, right?

As I continued on my grief journey, the pain stayed with me, but it softened. My conversations with God softened too. Instead of screaming up at Him yelling, “Why God, why?” I prayed for Him to use me. To give my pain purpose.

And so he did.

A year ago today, I stood on stage and accepted an Emmy award for a documentary I poured 5 months of my life into. In the documentary, I openly share about my loss. I’ll share more in a future post, but I spent many years alone in my pain and grief. It was when I prayed for God to use that pain to help others, that the door opened and I saw Him at work through me.

Since then, I have traveled the state and shared my story with schools, church groups and organizations. I started a grief group in my city. I’ve used my platform as a news anchor to educate others. God is giving purpose to my pain and allowing me to help others. He doesn’t “give his biggest battles to his strongest soldiers,” (another punch in the face) but He does give us His toughest battles to prove His strength to the weak. To prove that we are only strong when we admit we are weak and lean on Him for guidance.

I don’t know what your specific purpose is, but rest assured that God does. He has the power to turn your unbelievable pain into incredible purpose. And He will — when the time is right. Have faith in that.

Pastor and author, Levi Lusko, once wrote, “Pain is a microphone. And the more it hurts, the louder you get. Suffering isn’t an obstacle to being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before.

Well, I’ve since traded in my hairbrush for an actual microphone, but don’t worry you don’t need the real thing. Allow God to use your pain for something great. And if you aren’t sure what that is yet, simply ask Him to show you.

Love, L.

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A new rug won’t cover up the grief

For the majority of my adult life I’ve lived in apartments. Tiny apartments.

Studios and one bedrooms. My first one was less than 420 sq. feet. Yikes!

I’ve been living in the same place for the past 4.5 years and I felt like I needed some change. New scenery. Oh — and more space.

So a couple of weeks ago I moved into a little 2-bedroom house. It’s a rental (commitment phobe) but I love it. It’s the perfect size for me and my sweet pup. The only problem is I need to fill it! Which really isn’t a problem at all because it involves shopping for new stuff!

As soon as I moved in I wanted to buy everything. New rugs, furniture, paintings — I wanted it all! I’ve been scouring Facebook marketplace every morning and evening, walking into Target far too many times to count and studying paint colors on Pinterest like it’s my job.

It’s been fun, but what I realized it really has been is a distraction.

Last night I was sitting on my couch looking around at my new home when reality sunk in.

In 5 days it will be exactly 4 years since I got the phone call that rocked my world. The man I loved and planned to marry was gone forever, and there was absolutely nothing I could do.

It’s safe to say September 16th is a heavy day.

Sitting there looking around at my new home and new furniture, I realized all of this stuff was distracting me from the reality that the day I dread the most is almost here. Of course I knew it was coming, but I was desperate for a distraction.

The truth is that day is going to come whether I want it to or not. And it’s going to come again next year and the year after that and the year after that. I can distract myself all I want, but no amount of new rugs will cover up the grief.

And to be honest, I don’t think I want it to.

As much as I wanted — no, needed– a distraction, the truth is when I allow myself to grieve is when I feel closer to him than ever, even after all this time. I call it my grief blanket. Where it used to suffocate me, now it gives me comfort to wrap myself in it from time to time.

As Zig Ziglar once said, “The more we love a person we have lost, the greater our grief.” What a beautiful testimony to the loved ones who are no longer with us.

So friend, give yourself grace. Let yourself feel. You can distract yourself with shiny things, but grief will always be there. But so will the love.

Love, L.

The Grief Anniversaries

Grief is hard.

It’s messy.

It comes in waves.

And sometimes you don’t see those waves coming.

I’m no expert on grief. But I have been walking my own grief journey for nearly 4 years.

On September 16, 2015 I lost the love of my life. It was and will forever be the worst day of my life.

I will share more of my story in a future post, but today I am riding a wave of grief.

In the weeks, days and minutes after he passed away, the waves were endless and relentless. I could barely catch my breath before another one hit.

I was drowning.

Today is different. Nearly four years later and I can sense the waves coming. I see them on the horizon, building as they make their way to shore.

They are the holidays. The birthdays. The day we shared our first kiss. Our first date. They are the “Grief Anniversaries.”

I always thought the anniversary of the day he died would be the most difficult day. And while it is hard, especially that first one, I find his birthday is when the wave hits hardest.

I don’t know exactly why that is. Maybe it’s because he is supposed to be another year older and instead he is forever 27. Maybe it’s because we are supposed to be celebrating your day, not crying because we are without you. Maybe it’s because I never got a chance to celebrate this special day with you and now I never will.

With Saturday looming, I feel it in every inch of my body. I feel tense, stressed, agitated, emotional, quick to anger and cry over the smallest things.

I find it hard to explain to others, but I know why. I know the wave is almost here.

What I’ve learned though is that as much as we want to ignore them, these waves are unavoidable. We must stand there, our feet firm in the sand, and let them pass.

I already accept Saturday will be a difficult day. I acknowledge the wave is coming.

Instead of letting it knock me down, I vow to do something special for him. Something I know would make him smile. And make me smile, too.

Don’t avoid the wave. Run to it and feel every part of it, but don’t let it knock you down forever.

If you are experiencing a wave, or sense one coming, know that I am with you, sweet friend. I acknowledge your pain and pray for comfort.

Happy Birthday, Brock. #Forever27

Choose Joy.

Have you ever woken up in a bad mood? Maybe you slept badly. Or you are hungover. Worse yet — it’s Monday. Oh — and it’s raining.

Yes, that kind of day.

The bad mood you wake up in can carry with you throughout the day. Unless, you decide to change it and choose joy.

It’s a decision.

A conscious effort you have to make every single day.

And it’s not easy.

But let me be the first to tell you, there are worse things that can happen to you than being hungover on a rainy Monday morning after sleeping badly the night before.

Choosing joy has been a mission for me these past few years. And I’ll be the first to admit, I have failed at that mission. A lot.

But in order for me to live, I need to choose joy. It’s not an option. It’s necessary.

This blog isn’t just for those who have lost someone and are dealing with the unbearable pain of grief. But if that is you, keep reading.

It’s for the person who is struggling to find the light in the dark.

The person who, for whatever reason, has lost hope.

I’m not a therapist and I don’t have a happy pill to make life better. But I can speak (and write) from experience that even when it feels like all hope is lost, there is a light.

And that’s what I plan to do with this blog.

To write what I feel, when I feel it, and pray that it will reach someone who needs to hear it. It’s a little terrifying to put your pain on paper and be vulnerable, but in my experience, it has only helped me in the process of my own grief journey.

Just like in my Facebook posts, what I write will be raw, real and honest. Some things will come from my everyday encounters. Other parts will be straight from the pages of my personal journal, to help you see that where you are now in your hurt and pain is not where you will be forever.

Thank you to my friends and family who gave me the encouragement to do this. Here goes nothing! #ChooseJoy

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Love, L.