There are victims and there are survivors.
There are those who give up, and those who overcome. Those who rise above their circumstances and rebuild their lives in a new way.
There are several days in Jennifer’s life she remembers as if they were yesterday. Her wedding day, wearing her white lace gown and a bouquet of white roses clutched in her hands. Watching as she approaches the dashing young officer in his naval uniform. Making promises for a lifetime of love.
She remembers vividly the birth of each of her four children, the first time she held them in her arms.
And Jennifer remembers the day her husband of almost thirty years suddenly walked out on her, with no warning, leaving her with no money, no home, and a pile of unpaid bills.
Her life was shattered, her hopes crushed. Her dreams destroyed.
Jonathon remembers how life was…before. He was on top of the world, president of the company he founded several years before. Making a high six-figure income and living a life of luxury. Suddenly the bottom fell out of his industry. Bills went unpaid, paychecks bounced, lawsuits ensued, and within four months, his company, his employees, and his income were gone. His savings were used to pay off debts he’d incurred, and he suddenly found himself unemployed with he and his family living with friends.
Everything was gone. His life’s work was no longer, faded into only a memory.
Then there are the hundreds of victims severely injured in the random acts of mass violence that is plaguing our country…and others. Victims who were gathered to enjoy a concert on a beautiful warm night; gathered to worship in their church on a Sunday morning; dancing with friends in a nightclub; running a marathon. And suddenly their lives were forever changed. Families were devastated and survivors incredibly injured and having to suddenly cope with their new normal, including loss of limbs, eyesight, and in many instances no longer able to care for themselves without help. Both physical and emotional trauma devastated their lives.
Shattered hopes and shattered dreams. Having to put the pieces back together and deciding how and what to fill the missing parts with.
It’s not easy, and it’s not quick. The pieces don’t fit like they used to, and the result is not like it used to be. It’s hard to adjust to that new normal. You cry out for answers, but no one replies. At least, no one replies like you want them to.
Especially when you’re asking, “why me?”
It’s easy to blame God for letting this happen, without stopping to think that it could have been so much worse. Without stopping to think that the plans He has for us are still there.
You ask yourself why you did this or that, why you made that decision, torture yourself with, “if I could only re-live that day and do this instead of that…”
That doesn’t help either, because real life is not a movie set; there are no retakes and no re-doing the scene until it’s perfect.
Picking up the pieces and repairing those shattered dreams, and shattered lives requires more of us than we ever knew we had. More faith, more determination, and more self-confidence than we thought we could muster. Discouragement happens along the way, but every time we rise above it, our faith and our self-determination are strengthened until we realize we are no longer a victim, but a survivor!
In Jennifer’s situation, she was fortunate enough to have family who gave her a place to live while she adjusted to her new life. She went back to school and earned her associates degree while working part time, and found a job in an industry she truly enjoyed. And yes, she did meet someone else, and has now remarried.
While many of the victims of those acts of terror and violence are still putting back together the pieces of their lives, countless others have gone on to adjust to their new normal, and have accomplished things in their lives they never dreamed possible. Because with a strong faith and determination, they survived, and re-glued the shattered pieces of their lives back together in a new way, and have also grown to appreciate life in a totally different perspective.
Jonathan, on the other hand, couldn’t deal with his circumstances. Wouldn’t adjust, and continued to dwell on the past, what he’d lost, and what he should have done differently. Although his family and friends tried to bring him out of his depression, nothing helped. And one day, he just disappeared. He gave up. No one to this day knows where he is or what happened to him. A shattered life still in pieces.
Who will you be? Jennifer or Jonathan? One of the victims who remains a victim, or a survivor who picks up the pieces of shattered dreams and rearranges them into a new creation?
It’s up to you. It’s not easy to be a survivor.
But it’s better than the alternative.