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Dena Johnson Christian Blog and Commentary

Sucker Punched

  • Dena Johnson blogspot for Dena Johnson of Dena's Devos
  • 2016 Jul 06
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~~I opened my computer with plans to write a blog about our thoughts.

But before I could even start, my thoughts captured me and took me in a completely different direction.

As soon as my computer booted up, the screen hit me like a punch in the stomach, temporarily knocking the breath out of me.

In the top right corner, my computer gave me a simple reminder of the brokenness this life has.

July 3, 2016

The date sucker-punched me, reminding me of all the hurt and pain and sadness that has punctuated my life for the last decade. Even as I pound out these words, not even knowing where I am going, the tears sting my eyes just before they roll down my cheeks. I am overwhelmed with so much emotion.

Joy. Grief. Maybe a touch of guilt. Sadness. Gratitude.

The roller coaster of emotion is running at full speed right now, even as I try to process everything rushing through my brain and my heart.

You see, at this exact moment 23 years ago, I was at the salon, having my hair and nails done.

Excitement in the air. Nerves getting the best of me. Ready for the day every girl dreams of. The first day of the rest of my life.

Family and friends gathered in the church, even as I slipped into the beautiful white gown. I placed my grandmother’s pearls around my neck. The elegant veil placed atop my head. My dad by my side.
We walked down the aisle where my best friend was waiting.

We laughed and cried throughout the ceremony. We made a solemn pledge before family and friends and before God to love, honor, cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer and poorer, for better and worse, until death do we part.

And we walked back down the aisle, hand in hand, ready to face the world…together.

So much has happened in 23 years. Happiness. Sadness. Fights. Making up. Deaths. Births. Ministry. Laughter. Tears. Betrayal. Heart ache. Despair. Anger. Bitterness. Forgiveness. Moving forward. Building a new life. Raising kids. Growing. Changing. Seeing God.

Three years ago, on what would have been my 20th wedding anniversary, I had my first article published. I remember the tears, again a mixture of joy and sadness. Reflecting on what should have been versus the new life God was building for me. The pain and sadness compared to the overwhelming faithfulness I experienced at the hand of my Savior.

Today, I sit and weep. Weep over what should have been. Weep over loss. Weep over a life cut short. Weep over the pain my children are experiencing. Weep for unknown reasons.

And I find myself wondering how to reconcile my expectations with reality.

Years ago when my oldest was only a few months old, we served on staff at a large church. In our short tenure there, we discovered undeniable evidence that the senior pastor had an affair. We confronted him and were assured that he had repented and was surrounding himself with men who would hold him accountable.

As we walked away from the situation, we carried a strong reminder from God: If you choose not to abide in me daily, it could be you one day. Sadly, the warning we received early in ministry was not enough to prevent our own collision course with adultery.

What would our lives have looked like if we had both remained in the vine, abiding daily? What kind of ministry would we have? Where would we be living? What kind of joys and sorrows would we have faced?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the what ifs and the what could have beens. It’s easy to lose our focus, to turn our attention away from what we have.

It’s easy to become discontent by missing the many blessings we have right in front of us.

So on this day, I’m trying to refocus my attention.

I’m recounting my blessings.

Three amazing kids who touch the lives of everyone they come into contact with.

An incredible family that has stood by us and loved us and supported us every step of the way.

A former church that still loves us and embraces us as if we never left.

A beautiful ministry where I get to share from my heart how to overcome the brokenness and build a beautiful life.
So many amazing friends—many of whom I’ve never met—that walk this journey alongside me.

And, above all, the opportunity to experience the Great I Am, to find Him faithful in every situation. To know Him deeply and intimately as He guides my every step of this crazy journey called life. To find that He is trustworthy…forever and always.

The last decade has been quite an adventure, one I never dreamed and certainly never wanted. And yet, here I am today. The more I walk with my Savior, the more I long for the adventure only He can give.

He is calling you and me to step out of the boat and walk on water toward His outstretched hand. It’s a daunting thought to take that first step, to lift that leg up and over the edge of the boat. But you can be certain that He is there waiting.

Your journey may not look anything like you expected. The storms may be raging, winds howling and thunder crashing and lightning flashing. You might fear drowning.

Forget the storm and the waves crashing all around you. Focus only on Him. Reach out for that outstretched hand. Notice the nail marks, reminders of One who loved you enough to give His life for you. Let Him pull you from your comfort zone, from your ordinary expectations of this life.

And let Him lead you on the adventure of a lifetime…no matter how different it may be from the life you signed up for.