Last week I was on a business trip to visit a company that was acquired by Lippert, the company that I currently work for. I was there to represent Lippert; to talk about the core values and ethics of the company; to assure the new colleagues they were joining a company that truly cares for the people who work there; a company that believes in “business as a force for good”. These core values are very close to my heart since I strongly believe that every day is a gift, an opportunity to make a difference.
The company I visited is located in the Bodensee area of Germany. It is a beautiful part of Germany but for me this region is a reminder of the tragedy and pain that changed the course of my life a long time ago. Over the years, the gaping wounds have healed but the scars are still there even if they don’t hurt any more.
About 21 years ago a young man decided to establish a company with his father, who was/is a well known figure in the area of nutrition and dental health. The idea was that the young man would only lend his surname, which was the same as his father’s, and vouch for him so that the banks would give his father the necessary loans to start the company. The young man would not have to run the day-to-day-business, for that there was a well known and paid consultant who would manage that with the father. The father lived, and still lives, in the Bodensee area and the company that was established was in the same area. The moment the company was established, things took a turn and the father started demanding huge payments from the company. To cut a long story short: within the first few months the company went bankrupt, the consultant and father both took quite a lot of the money, the young man and his wife were left with a huge mountain of debts. According to German law, the young man was liable because his father said he was insolvent and didn’t have any money. So the banks clamped down on the young man and his wife. This young man was Bernd and the wife was me. I had begged Bernd multiple times to step out of the company when I saw things worsening but my words and pleas were dismissed by the consultant and others as “stupid and ignorant, since I was just a woman and a foreigner who had no idea about how things were in Germany”.
And just when I had thought that I had worked a couple of years in Germany, gained some experience, had some savings so that I could finally start living out some dreams, my world literally came crashing down and I felt the chains of debt strangling me. That the debt was not mine didn’t seem to interest any one. It was expected that I should be strong and take on responsibilities that were not mine while Bernd was reeling under the psychological effects of this betrayal. It didn’t help that the one person who could have helped lighten the financial burden was Bernd’s mother but she was willing to help out only if Bernd left me forever (she was not in favour of his choice of partner).
So even though no one saw or acknowledged the pain and heartbreak that I was going through, God saw it all. He saw the injustice, the wounds, the shattered
dreams, the accusers, the burden that I was breaking under – He saw it all. I needed a job and I had only worked in small German companies. God led me to the first global company and to an amazing manager who was the first of many. The rest is history. While people only saw me climbing up the professional ladder with one great manager/mentor after the other; God saw the broken heart, shattered dreams, He heard the hurtful comments from people calling me selfish for not having children, and He knew I was fighting not only to pay off tremendous debts but to have enough to live well. I had promised myself that I was not going to scrimp every penny to pay debts that I had not made – which meant that I had to earn more than enough for us to lead a “good life” and pay off a huge sum every month to the banks. And God made it possible that shortly before Bernd turned 50, he and I were finally debt free. It took us a total of 13 years to pay off these debts and while the dreams of having children or a home of my own were brutally shattered, God made so much possible in these years – both professionally and personally. I traveled the world on business; we traveled a lot privately; we saw things and places we never dreamt we would ever see; had experiences that were so special and we even helped so many people financially.
Above all I grew personally and spiritually. God used so many people to slowly heal those terrible wounds and mend my broken heart. My faith in God just grew stronger over the years- I could see how He was blessing and carrying me through it all, how I was walking through fire but the flames couldn’t burn me, how He gave me an inner joy that nothing could take away. And He brought wonderful friends, mentors, guides and colleagues into my life.
Eight years ago, I took a much needed sabbatical after we had finally paid off
the debts. I wanted to take the time to rest and to ask God what He wanted me to do next. And that was when I could finally fufill the only dream that I hadn’t given up on – I finally got a dog and Jaden came into our lives. Which is why I named him Jaden which is Hebrew for “God has heard”.
But God was still at work and was not finished with giving me back the “years of the locusts”. It was also not the end of trials and painful experiences. But through it all God was forming me, removing all that was keeping me from becoming the woman He wanted me to be, showing me His purpose for my life and leading me on the unique path that He has for me. He was also healing my relationship with Bernd which had been greatly affected by what had happened and the years thereafter.
And so 21 years later God took me back to the Bodensee area. I do not believe in coincidences and I know that in taking me back God showed me how He turns ashes to beauty! I went back to represent a company that chose me because I reflect their core values. Driving through the Bodensee area I was so grateful that God did not let what happened here years ago destroy me; that He carried me all through all those difficult years and brought me back to show me that He has not forgotten what happened even if I have. As I drove through this area of painful memories- I was overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness and love; by the fact that He sees all; doesn’t forget even if the world has forgotten; sees the injustices done; heals wounds that cannot be seen and rewards one beyond measure – all in His time. He is the faithful and loving father who provides for His children and ensures that their cup overflows.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time…….yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end”
– Ecclesiastes 3:11