“…for I am the Lord, who heals you.” (Exodus 15:26)
A friend shared a spiritual story of fortitude with me, that was printed in the Iowa Life section of the Des Moines Register on Monday, March 4, 2019. Martha Wolf told her story of how each of us can “Bake Yourself Free.” Martha said, “I didn’t lose it after my father died when I was 12, and I didn’t lose it when my brother and sister both died of cancer in their late 40’s. But my faith was wavering now.” What shook Martha to her core was her impending divorce. She struggled to find her “new single identity.” But rather than lose herself in despair, Martha responded through the help of a friend.
Martha knew she “needed to be busy and feel productive,” if she had any hope of overcoming this spiritual blow to her life. She and a friend decided to open a Bake Shoppe. At first, it was less about the money, and more about nurturing “my sense of purpose,” so “I was no longer feeling defined by the divorce.” Martha and her friend worked hard, making baked goods out of Martha’s home kitchen. The business kept growing. They went from selling their baked goods to a grocery store and convenience stores, to people coming directly to their home to buy their baked goods. In time, her ex-husband helped the two women get into their own building. Soon, the bakery became a restaurant, which turned into multiple restaurants.
Still, Martha remained humble. She said, “I realized the success of a business isn’t always about the business itself, but about the soul of those running it.” Rather than lose her soul to an unhappy marriage, Martha overcame her fears and sadness, and brought hope back to her life. She said, “In all honesty, my former husband took the hit for getting us out of a marriage that was not working. I would never have had the courage to do that. My children are so much healthier in their relationships than had we stayed together.” And now, her husband works for her!
Not all stories have such a happy ending, but our life stories have a better chance of succeeding if we can learn from Martha. It isn’t a sin to doubt God in our moments of despair. It is a sin to let your despair fester, until you feel there is nothing left to live for. Rather than sulk, Martha nurtured the relationships she still had, and developed new ones. She knew she needed to be part of something bigger than herself. She continued to trust God, even when she didn’t understand. And finally, she made her life bigger than it had been before. Let us pray today, that we can face our own adversity, by making our lives bigger, rather than smaller. Thank you, Martha, for your brave and faithful example!