Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t win in life? Like you just can’t catch a break? Sometimes you want to stay down when you get hit because it seems like that would be better than getting up, only to get knocked down again.
When the tough times come, what do you do? Who do you depend on? Who do you trust? Today, I want to talk to you about the tools I used to overcome my life’s greatest trial.
I often compare my life to that of a punching bag. The brand is Everlast, because my Father is Everlasting. I’ve taken hits but I know I was designed with quality in mind so no matter what, I will last.
My son Kayshaun was born with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, which is a disease that causes a lack of protein in the dystrophin gene. Over time, this causes a deterioration of his muscles. There is no cure, and the only treatment available has some really undesirable side effects.
Since the heart is the biggest muscle in the body, we understood that there was a possibility that it too would eventually deteriorate. In October 2013, we had just finished a regular checkup with the heart specialist at Sick Kids hospital. Every year we have the same tests done, to make sure there have been no changes in his heart function. On that day, we celebrated that his heart function was normal and only showed the slightest of changes.
Fast forward to February 2014, when Kayshaun fell ill. We were often in the hospital from severe constipation from his medication but this time seemed different. The doctors in the Emergency department looked at him quickly and sent him home with a new prescription that didn’t seem to solve the problem. By the 3rd time we had gone back to the Emergency Department, I decided that I was not going to leave until the doctors had done a thorough check.
The doctor sent us for X-rays and it finally seemed like he had diagnosed the problem. Kayshaun was severely constipated and needed an enema to clear him out. But at the same time, the doctor had found something else. He told me that he needed to admit us to the hospital in order to take a closer look.
Doctors from the cardiac unit were called in and they kept us overnight to run tests. By morning, the doctors had diagnosed the problem. They called me into a separate room and told me that his heart had deteriorated rapidly from healthy to 5% heart function in a matter of 4 months. They had never seen anything like it and only gave him the weekend to live. They uttered a sentence I will never forget.
I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do.
I was shocked. Heartbroken. Unsure of what to do. Talk about being punched in the gut. I lost all ability to breathe, to think, to live.
I felt like I was left hanging in the air. The weight of the news was too much. I got the news on Friday, and some friends came to the hospital on Sunday to pray with me. That day I felt an indescribable peace came over me. Everlasting peace.
I had this understanding that things were going to be ok. I also made the decision to live life and make unforgettable memories with my son in the time we had together.
When You Think It Can’t Get Any Worse…
In the months that passed, many miracles took place. Every time the doctors said he only had a few days left, he out-lived their prediction. Happily. He always kept a smile. However, on the morning of August 16th, 2014 he woke up and took his last breath in my arms.
I never thought he would pass away. He beat the odds every single time. Near the end, it became more challenging for him and he kept pushing. And each time he kept pushing, I did too. We were cut from the same cloth, built to overcome.
But still he left…
After we had laid him to rest, I took a trip with a friend to get away from the noise. When I returned, I found out that a glitch in my income provider reduced my earnings from $1200 to $700. This meant that I didn’t have enough money to cover my rent. I had two weeks to pack up what I could, donate as much as possible, put the rest in storage and leave.
I didn’t get a chance to take my time even to pack and mourn over his stuff. Maybe it was for the best. In an instant the life I spent eight years building was gone.
But life has a way of shaping us by bringing us through the fire.
My “Tools For Trial”.
Here are the specific things that carried me through my greatest trial.
These are the tools that God used to transition me into my new beginning. They helped me find the room to breathe when I felt I couldn’t. Through the curves, the punches, when I felt frozen and stuck in one place.
In the moments where words weren’t enough, I would play songs of hope. Songs of that reminded me of the truth. Especially, I played gospel praise songs to remind my soul that God is still good when I was tempted to complain. They helped greatly in uplifting my spirits
Most of my prayers were short because I had nothing much to say and nothing much to give. Sometimes my only prayer was “God help me”, or “God, it hurts” or “God, please!”
And I know that He heard me each time.
In times of prayer, I felt God’s comfort more than I had ever felt it before.
It’s interesting. You can read about the God of comfort but until you need Him this way, you don’t really know what it means. Still He always shows up.
I used to isolate myself when things got really bad and I was challenged to reach out and to build and maintain my friendships through this period. To start conversations with others when I feel like shutting down.
Part of my choice to lean on community support was to hire a professional therapist to help me process my emotions. I also applied to be a part of Toyin’s amazing Leadership and Women’s Life Coaching group. There I was surrounded by 11 other women who walked with me and allowed me to walk with them through their processes as well. It helped me get direction in my life, regroup and see that my life didn’t end when his did, as much as it had felt that way for so long.
Love has been a constant throughout this experience. Kayshaun showed me love every single day. God showed me love every step of this journey and finally, I realized that every time I gave away a little bit of love, it actually was a source of healing to me as well. I felt more complete.
I heard that the number seven represents completion and perfection and eight, new beginnings.
My son passed away at the age of eight.
I believe that I now have the opportunity for a new beginning if I am willing to accept it. I have been branded by my Maker and walk in His everlasting strength, no matter what is thrown my way.
My Words To You
Dear friend, no matter what you are going through, I want to tell you that you also have the opportunity for a new beginning.
Take a breath *in* and *out*, breath the stress, the negative words, the haunting memories out and give them to God. He knows what to do with them and He knows how to mend your heart and give you life more abundantly in return for your brokenness.
Say these words out loud:
Lord, please help me. No matter where I am in life, keep me close and grounded in You.
You will have to choose to move forward and if even if you feel like you are starting from scratch, make sure you are doing so with a solid foundation. I promise you, God is willing and able to hear you, even if all you can do is whisper.
The best part of life is that you are never obligated to give up. Each day you keep pushing, you are inspiring people around you who you may not even know are paying attention. We need you to keep holding on.
Here’s a major tip that helped me a lot.
Besides praying, find a song that pierces your soul. The kind of song that no matter where your head is at, it breaks through and warms your soul unlike any other. The rhythm is perfect and the words speak life.
Whenever you are having a hard time connecting, dealing with life, staying present, and moving onward, play that song on repeat. Repeat it until you feel a change within yourself and SING!
It doesn’t matter if you can hold a tune or not, sing the song with everything you have in you. There is something so powerful about singing truth out loud. It’s like you sing the problems out of your body. Once you’ve done that, make the decision that no matter what, this day will be positive. Even if everything goes wrong around you, smile, thank God for the good and bad and don’t give up.
So what’s the first thing you’re going to do when you get knocked down? How are you going to react when life throws you a curve that you never saw coming? Trust God that you too can have everlasting strength.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
- What are some of your FAVOURITE songs for moments of hardship? Share so that others can benefit from them as well!
- What are some of the tools that have carried you through your greatest trials?
Guest Blog by C.o.l.a. of Up Pur Beauty
Note from Toyin
Thank you so much C.o.l.a for being willing to be vulnerable and open with us on your personal journey through such a difficult trial. We support you and love what God is doing in and through your life. We pray for greater peace, joy, and comfort as you continue to surrender yourself to Him.
I am honoured that you would share your story on this platform and hope that many of my readers are encouraged to use these tools and find others that will help them overcome the trials they face.
Everyone’s process is different, but God is able and willing to restore even the most bruised and broken heart. If you want to practice what Cola said and listen to as well as sing truth over yourself, click here for a recommended youtube playlist.
Bless you Cola and reader,