Painting Beauty From the Ashes
By MaryEllen Dennis
After my 2010 divorce from a physically and emotionally abusive man, I turned to alcohol to try to escape the emotional pain. My alcohol abuse brought about numerous legal consequences, the destruction of my career, and my four boys were temporarily removed from my custody.
After three years of self-destructive behaviors leading to feelings of unworthiness, defeat, sadness, and hopelessness, I sat on my porch, scared and alone, and cried out to God to forgive me, come into my heart, and help transform my life, for I couldn’t do it on my own. That’s exactly what happened… I was finally forgiven, redeemed, set free, and full of hope.
In October 2013, an amazing man came into my life and offered me something I never had before: unbiased friendship and support. I shared, with no fear, every dark secret about my past, and instead of running away, like countless others, he remained my most trusted confidant and supporter. He believed in me so much, that I finally began to believe in myself, too. He encouraged me to pursue my dream of obtaining my Master’s degree and selflessly helped me repair my life.
About 15 months into our relationship, all was progressing well. I had resolved all my legal issues, was strong in my sobriety, my children were returned to me, and finally my life seemed to be moving forward. But then came the day that changed me forever. My 19-year-old son Logan was tragically killed in a car crash.
Nothing I had ever been through could compare to this soul-shattering, heart breaking day. I cursed God and wondered why this could have happened to me. Was I being punished? I had no idea how I would survive this devastation that had now been placed upon me and my family. Of course, suicide crossed my mind, but how could I even think of such a selfish act to relieve my pain, when I still had three beautiful sons that needed their mother. I did the only thing I knew to do. I turned to the One who could hold me up: God.
I turned it all over to Him, knowing that my faith would help carry me. I knew God promised that if I trusted Him, he would paint beauty from the ashes. Although it has been the most devastatingly painful, tortuous, and saddening journey, the journey of a grieving mother, I am still standing, still hoping, and still living. I will grieve forever, because love is forever, but I have hope.
It’s been almost 15 months since I lost my son, and I am living proof that a shattered heart can still beat. I’m encouraged, hopeful, and grateful that God is continuously walking this journey with me. There is something to be said about God’s promise to paint beauty from the ashes, for it offers a hope, a peace, and a calm unlike anything else in this world. I want to be a witness to others that even through life’s most difficult trials, tribulations, and even tragedies, that there is always hope.
This hope has helped me to understand that grief is really an ebb and flow, a constant dance of sorrow, joy, pain, a deep longing and a treasured sweet love. My family is doing well, my marriage is strong, I just graduated with my Master’s degree, have almost three years of sobriety under my belt, my faith is top priority, and I’m continuing to reach out to other bereaved moms to offer love, support, and hope.
This is my life, my story, my journey, and I will continue on this crazy thing called life. Painting beauty from the ashes.
MaryEllen Dennis is married with 4 biological sons and 2 stepsons. She is an RN & hold a Master’s Degree in Health Administration. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky. She places God first in her life and puts all her faith, trust, and hope in Him. Her life objective is to continue to be a faith filled woman who savors every moment of life.