My Journey of the last decade and what I learned from it
This past decade has been an amazing journey that turned into a passionate adventure I would never want to miss.
I got married, gave birth to 4 babies, we (I) settled down by buying the house Benny grew up in, we became owners of our own business, we started this blog to name only a few places we discovered
I love my husband, my kids, I love the beautiful people around me; they make my life so rich and passionate!
Looking back I am amazed and deeply grateful.
But my amazement and gratefulness go beyond the things I achieved.
I haven’t forgotten where I come from. I remember this deep insecurity, this shame about who I am, the struggle about my failures and the feelings of unworthiness. I remember the many lies I believed about myself and God, lies that created strong emotions inside of me which lead me to decisions and choices that brought me deeper into insecurity, shame, failure and feelings of unworthiness.
The decision of getting married to Benny was one great struggle itself:
When I met him, I was the adventurous type of girl. I loved other countries, other cultures, being confronted with new languages, food and customs. I felt alive in situations that were filled with the unknown, the unexpected and the different.
Benny was quite the opposite.
He never moved out of the house where he grew up. He still worked in the same business where he started his apprenticeship when he was 16. He imagined his future only in Switzerland.
When he joined me to a 6 month trip to Bolivia and Chile in 2008, he had a great cultural shock, struggling with those very same things I loved: The culture, the food, the customs, the unexpected, the many situations one has to adapt to.
But the more I knew him, the more I was amazed about who he is. His heart. His maturity. His stability. His unwavering way of treating me with honor and dignity. His love for Jesus. His heart for me. The many things we could relate to and where understand each other.
I was so torn: What should I do? Marry this guy – go for this dream of having a family but giving up those very things that made me feel alive and free? Or give up this guy and go for those feelings of freedom?
My life turned into one great prayer:
“God, show me what I should do!!”
After several month of struggling, I felt God telling me:
“Jeanne, marring Benny will be the wisest decision you can ever take in this area of your life.”
And because I love Jesus, and because I wanted to be wise – and from my experience in the past that my emotional world, my feelings and my own heart is not always to be trusted; I decided to marry him.
Today, a decade later, I know that I made the right decision; I deeply know that marrying him was truly the wisest decision I could have made! However, I learned that “wise” doesn’t necessarily mean easy:
I gave up the life I knew, left my comfort zone and my securities. I left the things that made me feel alive and free.
A couple of months ago, while on a retreat with Benny, we were writing down – each one for ourselves – our dreams and wishes for the future. There were many things I put down: a whole page turned into a bay of hopes and dreams for my future, our future as a couple, as a family, my relationship with Jesus and others.
I included the traveling part. I included the things that made me feel, in the past, free and alive. However, in the very end I wrote:
“My biggest dream however, is that there will be nothing left of this insecure and helpless girl who feels like a failure, shameful, worthless, undeserving of love, attention and connection.“
Writing those lines, I realized that this has always been my biggest dream. To me, this dream was so much more valuable than all countries I could travel to, all languages I could possibly speak or the beautiful foreign culture I could live in. It was so much more than all the feelings of being alive and free I was experimenting in the past by boarding a plane or getting to know a new culture.
This deep desire each one of us has to love and to be loved.
And I realized that this was exactly what the past decade was all about.
I had to face my fear of intimacy.
I had to look at my failures.
I had to go through those intense feelings of shame and unworthiness.
The way to go was to settle down and simply “be”, learning to be vulnerable and transparent.
Oh boy, that was so scary!
But because I love Jesus and because I wanted to be wise – and because I experienced in the past that my emotional world, my feelings and my own heart is not always to be trusted; I decided to stay on that journey.
And that’s how this past decade turned into the most amazing journey of my life.
And this journey was not about achieving things or status.
Being a wife, turning into a mother, having a house, a business or a blog were not the things that brought me to a place of freedom and identity.
Neither status, nor possession nor any achievement can bring anyone to this inner freedom, the peace and joy I increasingly experience on a daily basis.
Much more, it was by letting go of my ways of self-preservation, by agreeing to face how I was truly feeling about myself and God that I found peace.
And like I wrote in this article, God didn’t transform me into someone else. I didn’t turn into someone brighter, more capable, holier or less flawed than before. Neither did he remove the scares from my life or make me forget painful experiences. I still remember the reality of my past failures and shortcomings.
Rather, he used that past decade to free me from this shame that surrounded my whole being, that determined how I saw myself, others and God.
I will write more on the subject of shame in another article, but let’s have a look at the definition of shame out of the book “facing shame”:
“Shame is an inner sense of being completely diminished or insufficient as a person. It is the self judging the self. (…) A pervasive sense of shame is the ongoing premise that one is fundamentally bad, inadequate, defective, unworthy, or not fully valid as a human being.”
So God’s way to lead me into freedom was not by giving me some title such as “wife, mother, blogger”. Neither did he make me forget my past experiences, failures and hurts.
He didn’t turn me into someone that would be brighter, more capable, holier or less flawed than I used to be.
Rather, he leads me into that understanding that he loves me. That he loves all about me, my whole being with all my emotions and deep thoughts and dreams.
That he created me as a unique person, special, capable to walk in the ways He has prepared for me.
That in him, we have the freedom to be, to live, to love and to have life in abundance.
That in him, we are valued, cherished, loved and honored.
Not for what we do. Or the amazing things we achieve. In the same way, we aren’t less loved for the mistakes we make or the times we totally miss the point.
This is true for me. This is true for you.
The more I understand this reality, the more I walk in a freedom I didn’t know that it exists. No adventure, no beautiful country or experience can compete with what I discover trough that journey of facing my fear of intimacy, looking at my failures, going through those intense feelings of shame and unworthiness.
Today I love Jesus deeply and I am so grateful for the place where I am in my life. Looking at my life as a whole – with all the painful experiences, the scars, my own failures and mistakes – I feel a deep marvel and gratitude for a God who set us free to be .