Story by Summer Chaney
Have you ever lived your life caught up in the small details of the day to day, consumed by a routine, so much so that you’ve lost sight of the bigger picture? Have you ever continuously let things slide without realizing how rapidly the ice below you was melting away, until there was no ground left beneath you and you were floating into a dark and icy oblivion? Have you ever felt a rush of freezing water hit your face and begin to swallow you into its cruel harshness and at the same time felt yourself wake up to the reality of the misery you had been drowning in?
That was me in the Summer of 2020. I suddenly found myself struggling to keep my head above that murky, churning water; unsure of what my life had turned into, how I had let myself get to this point, and of what was going to happen next. And then- a hand reached down. How could I have forgotten that my Lord, my God, was ever faithful and would never let my head dip underneath that water? How could I have forgotten that my Jesus had been waiting for the moment where He could pull me from this mess and hold me safe in His arms?
In 2020, I was hit with a reality that shook my world like this, I woke up on what I thought was just another morning living during a pandemic while my husband of three years was deployed. We met in high school, he enlisted in the Marines, and we got married when I was just 19. Now I knew he wasn’t perfect (no one is), but as time in the marriage progressed, he kept slipping more and more away from what I thought I had married. I would find inappropriate text messages to and from random women from time to time. He would beg for my forgiveness, and I would accept on the pure-intentioned, albeit misguided, premise that I was a loyal Christian wife and should forgive him.
But on this particular morning I woke to a text message that sent those icy waves of reality crashing down on me. The text said that my husband was having an affair- and the text was from his mistress, who provided proof. I knew he wasn’t faithful, but I continuously made excuses for him in the five total years that we were together. I let things slide over and over again, but finally in 2020, I knew that I had been through enough and made the decision to file for a divorce. It was an earth-shattering turn of events, and I truly felt that I was floating in a void with no direction. The life I knew, and the future I had planned, was gone and I had to start over.
It was a deep darkness all around me, but luckily, in the dark is where God’s light shines the brightest. God takes those moments in our life to work wonders and show you his goodness, He shows us how to trust in Him the most in those moments.
So, I decided to lean on God harder than I ever had in my life. During my marriage, my ex-husband discouraged me from pursuing my relationship with God, so I put the work in to revive my relationship with Him. And in that, He lead me towards a path that allows me to use my lifelong love and talent for art to glorify Him.
I’ve loved art and painting ever since I was a child, and I knew that God didn’t bless me with a talent and passion for art for no reason. However, it wasn’t until this time in my life where he showed me how he really planned for me to use that for His honor.
One day I stumbled across some Bible journaling/art posts while scrolling on Instagram. People that were inspired by verses would create art to accompany them and paint them inside the Bible using journaling Bibles with wide margins. I spent hours that day looking through different posts and accounts, and this eventually led me to find another related art form: painting on Bible covers.
So, while I worked to revive my relationship with the Lord, and grow closer to Him, I truly leaned on Him in the tough times, and I began to Bible journal. I would study my Bible and put art to different verses, and I fell in love with allowing the Lord to flow through my fingertips creating visual beauty to match the lingual beauty within His Word.
Then the day came where the urge to paint my personal Bible cover consumed me and as soon as the first brush stroke hit the surface I couldn’t stop, I loved it so much. In my excitement for this new passion, I may have outdone myself and I painted approximately 15 Bible covers that summer.
As I continued to strengthen my relationship with the Lord, he began to give me more ideas on how to use my talent and he planted the idea of eventually starting a business/website. Not too long after that, I stumbled across the scripture, 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” ESV
When I read that I knew I found the name for my business. I started a website not too long after to share my Bibles with others, and to encourage them to dive deeper into the Word by using art as well.
Abounding Grace Bible Designs is a very special piece of my life now. It was born from a darkness that God used and turned into such a bright light in my life. It’s not only a way for me to share my art with other believers and to encourage others to dive deeper into their faith, but it’s also my daily reminder of how great our God is.
And now, two years later, the future I was so uncertain about is better than anything I could have ever imagined. Now not only do I have this amazing faith based artistic outlet, I have an amazing job where I get to help people, and my coworkers are wonderful women of faith who are there to lean on and are constantly uplifting and supportive. I also have recently fallen in love with a man who loves God more than me, and treats me the way God expects a man to treat his woman.
Even though it has only been two years, it truly feels like a lifetime ago. The life I’m living now is where I’m supposed to be, and I look back with gratitude on all my experiences because everything I have now was so worth it.
God knew that in order to get out of that situation I would need to be faced with a harsh reality that I couldn’t just move past, and in doing that, my life was set in motion on a course that God had waiting for me on the other side of it all.
As I sit here writing this with a smile, and reflecting upon my life now, I know that God had a purpose for everything, and that this is where I’m supposed to be.
I know that I couldn’t have gotten to this point in my life where I’m truly happy, where I have a relationship with Him that I work for on a daily basis, where the people in my life encourage that relationship, and where I have found the true love that God intended for me all along, without that chilling darkness that almost overcame me.
So when you feel like darkness is creeping in around you, don’t be afraid to turn on a light, I know that facing those uncomfortable or heartbreaking realities seems impossible, or too painful, and that letting the darkness just cover them up seems easier… But just trust me on this one. Let that light back in, and when He reaches His hand out to you, take it.
“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John8:12NLT
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