On April 24th four years ago I got the phone call that no one ever wants to get.
It was a seemingly normal Friday, and by four o’clock I had already worked an eight-hour shift and just gotten back from a hair appointment. I had plans to hang out with my boyfriend and some friends later that evening and was looking forward to a relaxing weekend. However, that phone call changed everything and in a matter of mere seconds, my life changed completely.
At about three thirty that afternoon, my little brother had been over at a friend’s house and had accidentally shot himself in the head. Now I know what you’re thinking because I have thought the same thing over and over — how do you “accidentally” shoot yourself? Well, his friend happened to have a loaded gun laying on the coffee table at his house. They were watching a movie on TV when my brother picked up the gun to look at it. It exploded in his lap. He was only nineteen years old, and two weeks away from graduating from high school.
I remember screaming while driving ninety miles an hour to the hospital. Things like this just didn’t happen to families like us. We were just so…normal. And where was God now? Where was He when that gun went off, when my mother had to learn over the phone on a business trip that her only son was now dead? Where was He when it physically hurt to breathe and when I wanted to just go to sleep and never wake back up because my life had turned into a nightmare? It wasn’t fair and it didn’t make any sense at all.
I remember with such clarity the doctors asking me if I understood what was happening and that John was going to die. I remember right after hearing that and racing into the hospital bathroom, gripping the cold sink with my hands, asking God why He had forsaken us like this.
But you know what happened next? I looked up into that bathroom mirror and felt the most intense feeling of calm come over me. In that completely broken moment, I felt God lay his hands on my shoulders and tell me that no matter what, He would never leave me and He would NEVER forsake me. Even now. Even in this. Right then, I accepted the fact that John was going to die but that I didn’t have to face it alone. For when we are weak, He is strong and He would see me through this because that’s the promise He makes to us.
I’m not going to lie, the days and weeks that followed were the hardest of my life. They were also when I felt the closest to Jesus. I started to listen to Him….really listen to Him. Going back to Church was incredibly painful after the funeral so I took a break, but immersed myself in scripture and conversation. Just three months after John died, I had the opportunity to go out to California for a job interview that I was urged to apply for by my boyfriend at the time as a way to take my mind off the painful events of the previous months. And believe it or not, it was there that I met my future husband.
I came home from that weekend in California and felt like God was urging me to take the biggest leap of faith yet. So, I broke up with that old boyfriend, packed up everything I owned in a couple boxes and boarded a plane to San Francisco. I was scared out of my mind. I had no place to live, no job, and only about two hundred dollars in my bank account. Looking back, I can’t believe my parents even let me go. It must have seemed completely crazy, but I knew God had called me to move.
The next six months that followed the move were very difficult. I lived in a tiny five hundred square foot house without any furniture in it because I was so broke. The guy who I was so sure God had told me would be my future husband and whom I broke up with my boyfriend for, wasn’t so sure he’d gotten the same message. We didn’t speak for months. I was lonely and homesick to the point of crying myself to sleep every night, wondering why God had called me here when it clearly wasn’t working out. Nothing was making sense in my life but still, I clung to God’s promise that He would be enough and that He would see me through this season.
Looking back now, four years later, I can see that time for what it was: a season. A season of loss, a season of brokenness, a season of incredible growth in the Lord. The guy who wasn’t so sure? We are getting married in May! God worked a number on both of our hearts, to say the least. I pray that my testimony can serve as an encouragement to you, whatever you’re currently going through. God is there — right there — no matter how hard things may feel. He will never, ever give up on you and has a plan for your life that far surpasses your own.
// Jenna’s Blog //