Rhianna NIx is a uncompromising fighter for love and redemption. “I’ve always been very strong-willed and driven,” she said. It’s why she became a pediatric nurse. It’s also why she wrote the gritty, raw, self-revealing book, Faithfully Fervent, about her journey of hope that began with a failed marriage. She fought to keep her marriage, she fought to love herself, and she fights to keep love alive in the hearts of others. She tells her story believing that people broken by trauma, betrayal, abandonment, guilt, shame and fear might find, as she did, hope and redemption. It was Valentine’s Day when she received a note from her husband telling her the marriage was over. “It was that day that my entire world fell apart. I can not express the amount of pain I felt. I felt shattered. It was very difficult for me, and I couldn’t comprehend how God would allow something like this to happen.” But she was resolved to fight for her marriage. “I had to ask myself, ‘Are you going to give up on your vows, or stand faithful and firm on all the things you promised?’ Just because somebody quits on you, doesn’t mean that you can quit on the commitments that you made.” When the truth settled in that the marriage was really over, Rhianna admits, “I never struggled with depression before, but in that moment I wanted to take my life. I truly felt the weight of the world. It was horrifying for me. I didn’t want to live. But I could feel God’s presence telling me, ‘You are going to get through this.’ It didn’t make sense at the time, but I had a peace wash over me that said, ‘You’ve got to fight; you’ve got to keep going.’ That’s when I knew, ‘God’s in this’.” Her counselor said, “You have to heal within. If you want to heal anything else in your life, you have to start with you.” Rhainna took this advice. “I asked God to allow me to feel the pain that I needed to feel, to open my eyes to see things I needed to see, to feel the things from past trauma, and see the sinful nature of myself, so that I could heal. Because I was willing to look, see and feel, God was able to begin to heal me. What I learned on this journey is what it looks like to look within, to accept those things, and invite Christ to come in and redeem those things.” Self-reflection revealed to Rhianna that some of her strengths, when misdirected, became her weaknesses. These included productivity and control, self- and others-reliance, discerning truth and error, knowing when to stand and when to run. “It started with forgiveness,” she said. “I always had as my heart’s biggest intent to love my husband well. I kept that in focus. I was intent on learning to love another with Christ-like love,” she said. “[Marriage] was an idol of identity for me, at the time.” But when it all fell apart, “instead of pointing fingers, I was looking within myself.” She learned, “We’re all sinners. We all disappoint and fail because we are human. The more I learned to forgive myself, and realize that God forgave me, the more forgiveness I had for my [ex]husband. “I have always been a doer. I love helping people, staying busy, and doing hard things,” she said. “It was my coping mechanism to push past hard or painful things. I chased after perfectionism and busyness to cover up the pain and to keep myself going. If I didn’t have time to think, then it’s as if it never happened. But it catches up to you. It caught up with me. “I struggled to love myself,” said Rhainna, “When you chase a life of perfection, 100% of the time you are going to be let down because [perfection] doesn’t exist. When you have that mentality, and you struggle with that, nothing ever feels like enough. When I had everything stripped from me, all I had was the truth that I am loved by God. I had to trust the love of God. I learned to say, ‘God you have to be more than enough for me.’ And I learned that you and God are enough. “Day by day [God] would chip away at the stones in my heart. I was learning to experience the love of God. Soon, I felt alive again. I started to feel love and life.” Now, she says, “I see myself as somebody who has overcome a lot of trials in life, but by the grace of God, has come out stronger on the other side, filled with passion to share that with other people. Standing firm became an incredibly empowering, life-transforming journey that I would not take back for anything. “If I could overcome this, hopefully God can use me to speak to someone else. I want that so badly! It is so encouraging and empowering to say to someone else, ‘I understand. I have lived your pain and I walked in that process.’” Here are some other things Rhianna would say to anyone who is struggling:
- Don’t go on a pity trip. If you’re still here, you have purpose. Keep going.
- It doesn’t matter what you walked through or what you’ve lived, what matters is what you’re going to do with it and how you’re going to move forward with it. In Jesus’ name, you are clean and free.
- You are more than this, you have a story, and it’s worth fighting for.
- Man’s love is fleeting, but God’s love never fails. God is going to be with you in the trenches, in the depths. You are loved. You are chosen. No matter who says otherwise to you.