Beyond The Fallout

Be Courageous  


 

Hi Everyone! 

Reflecting this week on my experiences and my current life struggles, I want to encourage you to be courageous. 

The Websters dictionary defines courageous as “:having or characterized by courage: BRAVE” 

The Oxford dictionary defines courageous as “not deterred by danger or pain; brave.”  Some Synonyms from the Oxford are brave, fearless, valiant, lionhearted, bold, daring, audacious, undaunted, unshrinking, determined, resolute…to name a few. 

It is very brave for anyone who has suffered abuse to get out of their circumstances, to push through the fallout, and to find healing.  It is not an easy road to recovery and it is full of the unknown. It is a battle of the mind, the soul, and a fight for a better life.  I like the words “not deterred by danger” because it is hard and it’s a tough battle to fight.  It is a fight filled with separation/divorce, court orders, mind games, lawyers, appointments, and counselling.  If children are involved, it is a fight to help them survive it; getting them counselling and trying to create a healthy “new” home.  Yet, all the while not feeling healthy yourself, or even ready for all the changes. 

Today, I want to encourage you that whatever you are walking into, whatever battle you face, that you are never going to be ready for it.  However, I believe you can be courageous.  You can walk through it not deterred by the danger.  I am reminded of the words Moses spoke to Joshua when he was passing his leadership onto him,  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 

He said this to Joshua three times in Deuteronomy 31.  Joshua was about to lead Israel into the battles that would take them to the promised land.  Again in verse 8, Moses said,  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  And in verse 23, “The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: ‘Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.’” 

I believe God knew that he needed to hear it three times, so that it would sink in.  I hope you find encouragement today by reading it three times.  I believe God can help you to be strong, to be courageous, to give Him your fears so that you can walk unafraid for He is walking with you.  He will never leave you, nor forsake you.  He is fighting your battle with you.

Unrecognizable  

Hi Everyone! 

I want to speak candidly today about how living with abuse can be so unrecognizable to victims.  I think it’s hard to understand sometimes why people stay in abusive relationships. 

I want to clarify that there are many forms of abuse.  Some are easier for the person to recognize as unhealthy, yet, it doesn’t make it any easier to leave.  Those suffering domestic violence with physical abuse can be filled with so much fear, it paralyses them into staying.  Other forms of subtle abuse are equally unhealthy and destructive to the soul.  Sometimes these forms of abuse are unrecognizable to the one suffering them, yet visible to others witnessing it.  Sometimes, hidden from everyone, victims suffer behind closed doors. 

There are many forms of abuse; physical, sexual, verbal, mental, emotional, and financial, as well as senior abuse.  How is it that a victim can’t always recognize what is happening to them? 

I want to share a little of my story.  I got married very young, I was nineteen years old.  I was a very naive Christian girl, who fell in love with a man who was a new Christian.  He explained some of his past to me and I believed that God had redeemed him.  I still believe God can redeem us from our past and from our struggles if the heart is willing, and a person pursues what it takes to be better.  However, these should have been red flags. 

We married and everything seemed fine for the first two years.  Until it wasn’t. 

I listened to the justifications for his behaviour and his pleas for forgiveness every time he hurt me.  Until the words “forgive me” didn’t mean much anymore.  In the midst of all this I still didn’t recognize what I was living under. 

My family would talk to my ex about how he was treating me, encouraging him that how he was treating his wife would be the same way his sons would treat their wives, if he didn’t try to change.  He would be good for a while, but always revert back.  Even the term of endearment, “dear”, took on a horrible connotation for me.  It followed words of contempt and blame. Yet, my family still didn’t know what else was going on, behind the closed doors. 

When I finally found myself free, I discovered all the abuse I had lived under through counselling.  I excused his behaviour and justified it as much as he did.  I had been living a co-dependant existence and I had been afraid to leave him.  When I was with him I wasn’t able to recognize what was going on.  I had feelings of shame and guilt, low self-worth, and I felt constantly on edge, never knowing what to expect.   I felt like everything was my fault and I felt violated. Yet, in the midst of that, I could not name it.  When my counsellor started naming what I had gone through, it finally made sense, and I could begin the process of healing. 

So why is it so unrecognizable? Why couldn’t I see it? I believe I was isolated and ignorant of the signs.  I wasn’t taught what to look for in an abusive relationship; what was healthy and what wasn’t.  I married so young that I grew up in those “unhealthy” conditions.  My sense of worth was wrapped up in one person’s view and entwined in his life. 

It is so important to start talking about what is healthy versus unhealthy.  It is important to educate ourselves and those around us, so that we can have good relationships and healthy boundaries.  I posted a link below, a Help Guide for Domestic Violence and Abuse.  I like what they have to say: 

“When people think of domestic abuse, they often focus on domestic violence. But domestic abuse includes any attempt by one person in an intimate relationship or marriage to dominate and control the other.  Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.”  An abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb.” 

Help Guide - Domestic Violence & Abuse 

Until I was free, I didn’t see it.  It was unrecognizable.  I hope to encourage anyone who is feeling low self-worth, shame, guilt and the feeling of being trapped or violated to search out information that may help you understand what is triggering those feelings in your life.  If it is from an unhealthy relationship, I want to encourage you to seek help.  There are places to find the help you need and resources online or by phone. 

In my local community, the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation provides support for victims of domestic violence.   Get Help - JMMF

In Alberta, there is a 24 Hour Family Violence Info line 780-310-1818.  The information is provided in more than 170+ languages. 

For those suffering Sexual Abuse, there are local agencies like The Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton at www.sace.ca or 780-423-4121 or the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres which provide links to family violence and sexualized violence programming, at http://www.casac.ca 

The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters provides information and lists shelters/services in Alberta at Find Shelter 

These are just a few, there are so many resources out there for those in need. If you feel you need help or know someone who might, please talk to someone; family, friends, a hotline or professionals. 

There is hope! I believe in redemption.  I believe God has the power to heal us, to rescue us, and to redeem our lives.


 

Loneliness 

Hi Everyone!

I believe what held me in my broken relationship longer than I should have stayed was the fear of having to do life by myself.  I knew I had the children and I had a supportive family but it’s not the same.  The pain of being alone is hard and learning to become comfortable with the loneliness is difficult. 

I remember walking into church with the kids by myself, as a new single Mom, and how hard it was.  It was depressing.  Before, I looked forward to church because as a stay at home Mom, I could connect with others and feel that community.  However, I didn’t feel the same way when I was alone.  I felt awkward and lonely.  Most people had known my ex and I as a couple.  On top of that, I couldn’t explain the circumstances that brought me to this place in my life.  I was trying to protect everyone from exposing the abuse our family had lived with.  It was really hard to go, but I kept going despite how I felt. 

 My one son and I were talking just recently about the subject of loneliness and he made an amazing point.  There is a difference between being alone and learning to live with that, developing and establishing that being alone is healthy and okay.  However, loneliness is different.  It’s a feeling we can have even in a crowd.  It’s the craving for relationship. 

I had a pretty amazing support network, I had relationships, family and people to help.  I was blessed.  However, I had to learn to be okay with being alone.  Not having the deep intimate relationship of a spouse anymore.  When others were no longer around, I had to learn how to handle the loneliness. 

There are times in life when others want to help, but the feelings you have to conquer cannot be conquered by others.  It’s a battle only you can fight and no one can fight it for you.  The victory has to be yours.  It’s a healing only you can find.  In saying that, I believe God wants to fight that battle with you.  Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “ The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (NIV) 

I also love The Passion Translation of Psalm 23:4, “ Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!  You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.  Your authority is my strength and my peace.  The comfort of your love takes away my fear.  I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.”  Let him be your peace in the loneliness, and trust Him when he says that he is near to you.  Have faith in Him to give you the strength and courage to be okay when you are alone and to recognize when you need to reach out to others when you feel lonely.  I also want to encourage others to reach out to the lonely.  You can’t fight the battle for them, but you can help them feel like they have an ally.

 


 

When Puzzle Pieces Are Missing  

 

Hi Everyone! 

One of my journal entries, early on, shared a sermon I heard two Sundays after the chaos began.  The Pastor shared how he was at his daughter’s preschool and she was showing him the classroom. They started a puzzle together, which she said was really, really hard.  He spoke about how it truly was a difficult puzzle and they persevered until it was done.  However, at the end two pieces were missing.  He shared how our walk with God is like this puzzle, it is worth the struggles and triumphs.  He shared how life can be difficult and we have to persevere.  God wants us to persevere with Him.  Even if puzzle pieces may be missing, it is worth building life with God at our side. 

I appreciated this analogy.  I was really struggling with the loss of so many things.  So many puzzle pieces were missing in my life.  I had lost my marriage, and I lost some of my dreams; how I wanted my life to look.  I was a homeschooling Mom and a stay-at-home Mom.  I now had to enrol my children in school, research what career to pursue and become a working Mom.  My puzzle definitely had a few holes in it. 

The more I thought about it, though, even if pieces are missing, you can still see the picture.  It is still beautiful.  So I went home after church and wrote some lyrics out.  I wrote: 

 

My heart is broken, my world’s been torn apart. 

It’s like a great big puzzle, with pieces taken out 

These pieces are gone now and the holes remain 

Is the picture still visible or is it meant to change 

 

My God makes everything beautiful 

My God makes everything beautiful 

My God makes everything beautiful 

He makes everything beautiful, in His time…in His time.

 

Brokenness clouds my mind and nothing feels right 

I turn my eyes to you, from the darkness to Your light 

I know that you are walking every step with me 

I’ll surrender it all and choose to believe 

 

This song “start” was the inspiration for a different version.  I recorded the revised song, called “Beautiful”, on the EP Beyond The Fallout.  My inspiration was from Ecclesiastes 3:11, “In His time, God makes everything beautiful.”  I will always love the analogy of the puzzle.  I have pieces missing, and I always will, but the picture is still beautiful and God is so worthy of building my life with.  Don’t give up on Him, He will never give up on you. 

If you feel like you have pieces missing to your puzzle and you are struggling, ask God today to show you the bigger picture.  I pray that you can see the beauty in your life despite the pain.  I pray that you can find hope in the struggle.

 


 

Acknowledging Reality 

Hi Everyone! 

Thank you for reading each week and sharing in the story.  I want you to feel supported and encouraged. If you ever want to contact me, just email me at info@andreavestby.com.  I know how hard it is to reach out and it’s so easy to isolate ourselves, trying to protect ourselves from further hurts.  However, if you are going through something and feel the affects of the fallout, please reach out.  I would love to pray for you and support you. 

I think when things fall apart and reality sets in, it is a pivotal moment.  It is the moment of acknowledging the truth.  What is the present reality I have to live with right now. 

I feel like this is the moment when our eyes open and it’s not just shock and reaction anymore. It is also the moment when we feel the deepest pain.  Others want to help us, but in reality, they can’t.  They try to say comforting words or give their best advice;  however, sometimes what is needed most is for them to just be present and acknowledge what’s happening.  Simply acknowledging the present reality that hurts and can’t be changed so easily; that is out of our control.  This is the first step of faith.  Surrendering this very present reality to God. 

I wrote a song that reflected this very moment.  It is called When Was The Last, and someday I would love to record it.  It was a journal moment for me, reflecting the reality that I didn’t know when was going to be my last kiss, or my last hug, or the last touch.  I didn’t know that love could grow so cold so fast.  Reality hit me hard, even though the love my ex and I shared had been so broken, with abuse, somehow I thought we’d survive.  I ignored the signs for far too long and loved him even when it was wrong.  So, when all of a sudden it ended, my heart was crushed.  I realized the finality. 

We can’t ignore these moments and we can’t stay in them either.  The only one who can truly understand our hearts and feel our pain is God.  Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)   At that very moment, God is right there in the present reality facing it with you. I choose to talk to him, to cry with him and to walk through the pain with him. 

I want to encourage you today to trust Him with whatever present reality you are facing.  Let Him into your heart, and let Him begin the process of healing.

When It's Not Okay  

Hi Everyone! 

I recorded six songs this past year for my debut EP Beyond the Fallout that relate to my story and all that God has done in my life.  In reality, these songs are only a small reflection. I want to share my heart in hopes of encouraging others who are facing hard times. 

I’m reading through the journal I wrote when my marriage fell apart, hoping to bring closure to my past, and in doing so, share the journey with you. The first few entries reflect my shock at the situation I was facing.  I have to be honest, it was filled with anxiety.  I didn’t know where the finances would come from.  I didn’t know if my marriage could be saved. Was there any way to come back from what happened.  Looking back, I didn’t know what life was going to look like. I couldn’t imagine where life was headed. I was thrown into being a single Mom with six children and the aftermath of poor choices that were not my own. 

I wrote a song, called Where do I go from Here. It’s not on the EP, but the lyrics said how I felt like I had been rocketed into outer space with no gravity; no place to put my feet.  I felt like I was floating in darkness.  Another analogy in the song, reflected how I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean treading water, and wherever I tried to swim it just splashed back in my face. The big question became…where do I go from here God? 

So, when it’s not okay…when life is in pieces, when you feel like circumstances are out of your control, what then? As, I read through my past and the feelings bubble up again, I am reminded that it’s one minute, one hour, and one day at a time. We don’t always have easy fixes and the things we have to face can be giant. It is okay to be lost. It is okay to not have a clue what tomorrow will bring. Embracing the reality that things are out of our control means that we can finally surrender and open our hearts to God’s ever present love.  I am reminded of a favourite verse, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)  It’s not a headlight shining into the future. It’s okay not to know what tomorrow will bring, but to trust him for today; for this very moment.  He will show the way a little at a time. I want to encourage you to trust Him today.  I know where I was then and where I am now.  He is worthy of our trust and He loves you, He will guide you one step at a time.

I've added the track to my song "Where Do I Go?". It is a raw recording from my living room.  As I go through my journal and songs, from that time, I would like to share some now and then as they relate to my story.  The songs helped me through the tough times and it's time to take a few out of my music box.  I hope they help you and encourage you in the same way.

Blessings!

 

Andrea Vestby

When Things Fall Apart  

 

Hi Everyone!

I want to share a little each week of what God is putting on my heart. My family and I have been through so much and I believe supporting one another is so important.  When things fall apart, it is so easy to get inside ourselves and hold it all in.  I have to admit that I am really good at hiding my feelings.  I find it easier to express myself in a song, than to express my feelings out loud.

I want to start at the beginning and address that awful feeling when things fall apart.  That terrible "gut" feeling when something happens that I have no control over.  The day my marriage ended, I knew there was no going back.  I knew it was a very unhealthy relationship, yet I didn't even comprehend then how unhealthy it was.  I just knew I was at the point of no return.  I denied it for a while.  I kept praying that if his heart was repentant, God would make a way. It took me a few months to understand the gravity of my situation.  

I had been in an abusive marriage for a long time, and with six children, I really didn't know how I was going to make it on my own.  I was scared and alone.  I love my kids and I would do anything to protect them.  I wrote in my journal, "I would do anything to keep them safe. They are my life, my joy and my treasures." So, one night in 2008 my life completely changed.  I became a single Mom to six amazing children. It would start the journey I've been on for the last 11 years, of finding faith, healing and hope beyond the fallout.

In rereading my journal, two days after my ex left, I reminded myself of the verse in Jude 20, "But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most Holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." I then wrote, "when I don't know what to pray, I can still pray and God will hear my heart's cry."  It has been my experience, over and over again, that I really don't know what to pray for sometimes.  Through many of the hardships that I have faced when things fall apart, I believe my prayers are not with words, but rather with sighs, with tears, and with simply breathing. 

If you are like me and things have fallen apart, please know that without words, God hears. Our faith can still be built with tears.