I can’t remember a day where I didn’t know who Jesus was.

I prayed “the prayer” kneeling down on the rock hearth of our fireplace when I was six years old, and I know the Lord honored that prayer, but let’s be real, here. The impetus was the argument I had with my older sister not thirty minutes prior about the status of Jesus occupying space in my heart. She said no, I said yes, and as all of us with siblings know, I would rather have died a thousand deaths than admit she was right. So I thought I better just make really sure she wasn’t right.

Up to the age of thirteen or thereabouts, I understood Christianity as a ticket to Heaven and church as the place where all my best friends were. I’m ashamed to say that our primary accomplishment was tormenting the adults who so graciously served us in the children’s ministry. There are a few out there who deserve some sort of medal. (Dr. J, I’m looking at you.) Until one night, perched on the edge of my mother’s bed, in a moment where the Kingdom of Heaven opened up a door in the suburbs of Atlanta.

In reading the Word, about the Word, the alchemy of Christ on the cross changed the composition of my heart. In that moment, I began to want more, to know more.

High school was rough.

For the better part of two years, I hid in the library. For thirty precious minutes in the midst of my day I would tarry there with the piles of books. It was a brief respite from the torture of eighth and ninth grade, the years when I would step off the bus in tears, unable to navigate the halls without torment, to sit through a class without snickers. I hovered there, peeking into the unchanging lives of beloved characters. Virtual friends before there was such a thing, whose existence was wholly unaffected by my scabby knees, tomboy looks and utter social ineptness. I was lonely in the stacks, but I was safe.

But then-in my quest to know more, to want more of this Christ-in my junior year, I discovered, truly, the redemption of the gospel and the freedom of being His creation, of being known, and loved. I knew then that when my value comes from being a daughter of the King, I would never be alone.

It would be easy to stop here, to give you a picture of my life now, a snapshot of my handsome Soldier Husband and our three wild and beautiful children. To talk about being hashtag blessed. Too easy, in fact, and a big fat lie. Because our road to redemption and the cross doesn’t end in this lifetime, friends. My story doesn’t stop when I sought out a true relationship with the Savior.

See, I exist in a small slice of the world that lives in relative ease and comfort. At age 25, I was married, pregnant, healthy, and impossibly wealthy compared to 99% of the world’s population. I was {am} privileged beyond compare with things I did nothing to earn. And unknown to me, I had, slowly over time, put my faith in the security all of those things could offer. I was untouched by true loss and grief, and all the brokenness the world could bring.

The end of 2005 and 2006 would be the year of my breaking.

In November of 2005, while my Husband was on his first tour in Iraq, I miscarried our first child in a particularly traumatic fashion, undergoing emergency surgery while he was half a world away. I was grieving, but receiving tremendous amounts of grace that kept me from being bitter, or afraid. I did, however, inform the Lord in no uncertain terms that while He took my child, under no circumstances could he take my Husband, a helicopter pilot in the midst of a war. And then. THEN. On January 7, 2006 my best friend, also a helicopter pilot, was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

I was swallowed up by fear. It consumed me, saturating every thought, every step, every conversation.
I was swallowed up by fear. It consumed me, saturating every thought, every step, every conversation. It was irrational but so real, so present, directing me at every turn. Taken moment by moment, the events of the previous three months had been survivable: I ran towards the Lord each time, availing myself of the grace so freely given. But with one phone call, I was undone, those moments stacked upon each other into a weight I truly believed I could not bear.

The moment of my final surrender started with a vague feeling of unrest. The kind you get when you think you left the door unlocked, or the water running, or the stove on. Husband’s unit was currently forbidden from the communal phone bank for abusing the time limits and we hadn’t talked in two weeks.

come-to-me-verse3I was spiraling downward quickly, as I began to obsess about the potential dangers Husband was facing right that very second. It was the middle of the night, I was alone, and so very afraid. Leaky, silent tears were rolling down my cheeks as I faced down my fear, mentally, physically, and spiritually empty.

At 2 am, shaking and sobbing, I grabbed my phone and called my mom. And somewhere, between the tears, and the comfort from my mama, and the grace overflowed from the Words of Truth, in the depths of the deepest well…I saw the brightest stars.

I didn’t have to bear the weight.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
Matthew 11:27-29, ESV

surrenderFor the first time in my life, I truly surrendered.

I relinquished my deal. In that moment, I knew, unequivocally, that He could take my child, He could take my best friend, He could take the Husband, and I would live. And eventually, live well. But I could not take another breath without Him moving the air in and out of my lungs. I would not survive without Him. I said He could have Husband and I meant it.

From that moment, forward, I was mending.  Slowly, mind you, but I was rebuilding on a foundation that cannot be moved.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken”
Psalm 62:1, ESV

(You can read the whole story of our First Year on my blog, www.allthegracebetween.com).

My story is divided into the before and after, the demarcation line being this middle of the night cry from the depths of my shattered heart. True, our redemption stories keep coming, and that was not the first time I suffered the loss of a child, or said goodbye to the handsome Soldier Husband when he went to war. But friends? He alone is my Rock and my salvation. And, always, always, there is hope.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’”

Lamentations 3:21-24, ESV

There is joy in the morning.

With love,
Molly Huggins.

Molly Huggins is an Army bride, one-time helicopter pilot, compulsive writer, friend seeker, and lover of color and all things textile. Her current occupation is ringmaster of the Huggins family circus (party of five, soon to be six). She has a B.A. in English from Covenant College and a passion for meeting other women right in the middle of their own messy stories. Pull up a chair at her virtual beat-up kitchen table, listen to her stories, and maybe even tell her yours. You can find her at www.allthegracebetween.com, spilling moments of motherhood, grace, and the Army life.
  • leslie

    i love you, Molly. I am so very thankful God put you in my life oh, those years ago. Your smiles still resonate from there when I see your pictures now.
    Those smiles just are so seasoned now. Thankful.