There are so many amazing people in our community, going through hard stuff, navigating life, and making a difference along the way. We want to introduce them to you so you can be encouraged, inspired and above all, know that you aren’t alone.
Meet Michele Cushatt. Today’s featured Wednesday Warrior. Read along to hear more of here powerful story and how God has been “reframing” her along the way.
What life challenges have you/are you overcoming?
Although I had a relatively average childhood, my adulthood has been riddled by significant and consecutive losses, including unexpected divorce, single motherhood, a second marriage and stepfamily, parenting adolescents, foster/adoption of three children from a trauma background, and head and neck cancer three separate times that almost ended my life. Now, in addition to the everyday challenges of marriage, parenting and work, I live with permanent functional disabilities and chronic pain.
What is something that most people don’t know about you, but you want them to know?
I’m not a hero or a saint or anything else quite so grandiose. I’m simply an ordinary, broken woman who daily struggles with sin and doubt and, yet, has been loved extravagantly and saved eternally by Jesus. It’s more than I deserve.
How has God helped you “Reframe” your perspective along the way?
For the longest time—most of my life, actually—I believed I needed to be “good” for God to love me. Although I often heard about grace, I didn’t understand it. I still believed my behavior impacted God’s affection for me. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I could never be good enough. God seemed impossible to please. Thus, I vacillated between anger at a God with standards I couldn’t achieve and self-hatred for failing Him. Worse, when life took a hard turn with a series of health and family challenges, I feared my pain was actually evidence of God’s punishment. Thankfully, over the past few years, God has been showing me through the pages of Scripture and personal experience that His love isn’t based on my character, but on His. He IS love. That means His love for me doesn’t alter or change, and I can bank on it, day after day. And although life will always come with unexpected challenges and losses, His loving presence remains with me through it all.
What is your super-power?
Hmmmm … great question! Not sure I have an answer. Those who know me well would probably say my superpower is perseverance. I’m fiercely determined, even to a fault. But that same stubborn streak has also helped me endure significant life challenges without giving up.
What good has come out of your trial?
There isn’t enough room to record the ways God has brought good from my years of difficulty. Although I have no desire to go through similar circumstances again, I can not deny the many ways God has used my suffering for both my growth and the growth of others. To begin, I have a new empathy and patience for those in hard places. Rather than rushing to judgment, I often pause and imagine the hard stories that might be fueling their poor behavior or exaggerated responses. It’s allowed me to love people who aren’t always easy to love. It’s called compassion. In addition, the long season of wrestling with my faith has, in fact, strengthened and deepened it more than ever before. Moreover, my experience with significant personal and medical trauma has provided me the experience and empathy to help my children recover from their own trauma.
How has your faith changed along the way?
I hope my faith has become more mature, has deepened and found its roots in God’s proven history and character and not my own. And I believe it has become less dependent on the emotion of the moment and my need to always understand and, instead, more trusting of the mystery of God’s reality, redemption, and love.
How has God used your story?
God has used my story to help me connect with people I never would’ve been able to connect with before. Because of my suffering (and the resulting doubts and questions about my faith), I now have a measure of credibility to speak into the stories of those who also suffer and question. Those who don’t believe and/or are struggling to believe in a loving, present God find safety in my questions and struggles. They are more likely to lean in and listen to my personal experience, because they know I’ve been tested myself.
What is a highlight of your story?
I recently released a new book called Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. In it, I chronicle several long years of wrestling with my faith in a place of suffering, AND I share the abundant evidence of God’s faithful presence revealed from the first chapter of Genesis to the last page in Revelation. It’s the most difficult book I’ve written, and it is, by far, the most transformational. In short, it’s a highlight of my story. Because what I thought would destroy my faith actually turned out to be the very thing that strengthened it.