When Death Stares You in the Face

By Linda Silfies

            When death stares you in the face, significant things happen that change your life.  The first thing that happens is that you stop taking life for granted.  I was brought back from the brink of death on several occasions.  You don’t have to take your last breath to be at the brink; the threat of death is enough to incite change.

            I have faced death at the hands of another; at the loss of  loved ones, through sickness, and for a fleeting moment when I thought the only way out of my hell, was to end it.

I remember that night many years ago, the night that for a brief, spontaneous moment, I saw the 16-wheeler barreling toward me; no one else was on the road, just he and I.  In that instant I thought, “I can steer my car head-on into him and it would be over in seconds—this deep, agonizing, inescapable hell of a life with an abusive husband–over.  This could be my escape—my only way of escape.”   But in the seconds before I would have had to make the move, I realized he may have had me fettered, but I would prevail.   I was not going to allow him to take anything more from me. He had already taken my youth, my dreams, happiness, self-esteem and self-worth. He was not also going to take my life also.

I allowed that 16-wheeler and all the other 16-wheelers in my life to pass me by.  It took years to find the way out, but I did, and the time spent waiting was not wasted. I grew stronger, wiser and more compassionate.   I learned what to look for to avoid future “mistakes.”  I discovered God and focused on getting to know Him.  I spent time learning to make healthy choices for myself—to allow myself to heal. I found ways to promote inner healing. When you are going through the fire, your only instinct is survival. I lived in survival mode most of my life.  It was time to come out—out into the sunshine of life; and allow the healing waters to wash over me.

Now that I am more than a decade free, I’ve had time to focus on my passions and purpose for being.  I love to write, listen to music and dance, but none of these activities satisfies the deepest longing of my soul.  For years I wrestled with the thought, how will I ever be able to fulfill my purpose if I do not know what my purpose is? I feared that at my journey’s end, if I had not fulfilled my purpose, my life will have been in vain.  My life has not been in vain; it has actually been in preparation for this very moment in time.  I am a multi-talented, passionate woman who knows more about life and how to live it now, than I ever would have had I not gone through all the fires I went through, and faced death as many times as I did.

When you’ve faced death, you realize who is important in your life, and you tell them; when you see the mistakes you’ve made, you apologize. When you see that you could have done better, you do better next time.  Everything you do has purpose; it is not to fill time or space.  For instance, when I marry again, it will not be for financial security, or out of loneliness—it will be to love unconditionally, with the highest level of love and commitment possible between two people.  It’s the place where God has taken me in my recovery.  He has shown me what it means to love someone to that degree, because He first loved me.

My passion is not to write words on a page. My passion is to write words that make a difference.  Many times as I was going through the fire, I wrote for solace. Things are different now. It is safe for me to look inside—to peer over the edge of my heart, to look into the depths and to marvel at the strength and tenacity within.  Writing gives me insight into where I’ve been and where I’m going.

My purpose no longer evades me like trying to catch a butterfly with a torn net.  Purpose has emerged from the ash heap of my life; to bring a glimmer of hope and sunshine into a world where pain, whether physical, emotional or mental, may be an everyday occurrence; where hope falters and dreams fade.

If I can leave you with one thing to hold on to, it would be this: Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, you are not alone, God is with you. He will bring you out unscathed. You will become stronger and wiser.  He will bless you with everything you need to succeed.  I know, because He did it for me.  “For I know the thought that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.  He loves you unconditionally. He sees what you are going through. He cares. He will help—just ask.

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