Guest Contributor, Beth Oslund, attended Bridging the Gap’s Thrive Conference in October. This is her Thrive story.

We all have a story to tell, isn’t that truly the truth? We have all been through something at some point in our lives that has defined where we are today or where we are headed tomorrow.

The Thrive conference really impacted me. Hearing the stories of other women of faith was very inspiring. I, myself, haven’t always been faithful. In fact, up until a few years ago I didn’t truly believe in the Word or know what my purpose was. Living a life without faithfulness led me down a road of many bad choices and much turmoil. However, it was all that messy stuff and heartache that brought me to God. Yet the difficult times remain. Whether it be financial struggles, parenting four children as a single mother, relationships or just struggling with everyday decisions, life is difficult. What I have learned, though, is that life is more difficult without Jesus. I used to stress about everything. I worried constantly until I read in the Bible that worrying was for the Lord, that to truly be faithful we need to hand those worries over and trust in God!

My eldest son, who turned 18 this past year, has made parenting very difficult. He has been fighting his own demons and I have struggled relentlessly in watching him do so. I have prayed that God would profoundly affect him, that he would see the Lord. I keep reminding myself that God doesn’t give up on his children, so I can’t give up on mine! But as I listened to Lysa TerKeurst talk about her own struggles it made me realize that I cannot control all things. I may have an image of what I think my son should be like but that might not be who he is meant to be. Wow! I cried. I had just fought with him in a text message on my way to the conference. Hearing this helped me to realize that although I may be doing better with that whole worrying bit, I still need lots of work on the rest of it! Perhaps I need to listen more, let him make his own mistakes, let him clean up the mess and be there to give advice when needed. After all, the Lord God has a plan. I need to trust in that plan, continue my prayers and guidance but trust that we are not perfect. I certainly haven’t led a perfect life but yet I have found the Lord, perhaps the same will be true for my son as well.

After leaving the conference, I walked in my front door and my two oldest, my sons, were standing in the kitchen. I felt this was a moment for me to really live out the conference’s message.

I was patient and listened to what they had to say; I didn’t scold or lecture about the mess on the counter. My oldest son left and my younger son, age 16, sat at the kitchen table and I shared some stories about the conference with him. I don’t know if he really wanted to hear about a bunch of ladies who gathered, worshiped, and cried together, but he got to hear some of it anyway. It was the highlight of my day. My son listened to me. He truly listened. He then shared that he wanted to go to church more. He then proceeded to tell me that as we look at colleges he really would like to attend a faith based school. He has two in mind that he would like to visit. He said he feels he will be able to learn and connect more with God if he goes to a private college like that. Wow. My son is 16, and this made my eyes well with tears. How could a mother like me, who never really knew God until a few short years ago, a mother who is divorced not once but twice, a mother who feels like she has made so many mistakes, have a son that sees the Lord in the light that he does? I am so blessed. I am blessed. Though I may have my own story of trials and tribulations, I also have triumphs and victories and faith.

Women are especially hard on themselves and I think it is our nature to strive for perfection in every area we can. But the truth is that we make mistakes, life happens! God has a plan for each and every one of us. We are perfectly imperfect! We have a past, we have a now and we have a future. The past cannot be changed, we live in the now and I am so proud to give God the keys to my future!