On 9/10/2001, award-winning recording artist, author, and speaker Tammy Trent lost her husband, Trent Lenderink in a tragic diving accident. Today, Tammy inspires thousands of women who face loss and devastation.
Tammy shares with us what it was like to walk through that personal tragedy without allowing it to destroy her and how writing played a pivotal role in the journey.
TT: Well, I have more good days then bad days now, so I think that’s great progress for sure. But I think those good days come only because I allow them to arrive. Quite honestly, it would be so easy to let anger and pain overtake my days and missing the life I once knew. But I realize I can’t live in that place. I visit it still from time to time, but I can’t live there. For me, I get up every morning with great expectation and anticipation just wondering what marvelous thing the Lord has in store for me. I choose to be apart of that life and love now. I can’t change the past but I can change the outcome of my life through the choices I make today.
There’s a lot of pain in this world…a lot of hurt…and I cannot imagine living without the hope of Jesus Christ.
What role has writing played in your emotional healing?
TT: I don’t think it was a conscious decision to write about it at first. It was certainly nothing I thought too much about at the time. But it came out of necessity really. I had so many amazing people emailing me daily, immediately following my loss. Just like always, I felt the responsibility to respond to them in some way. But I didn’t have the strength to respond to thousands of people individually. Many of whom I’d never met. So about two or three months into my journey, I began to journal and emailed that out as a response to those who were praying for me and asking specifically how I was doing. The more I wrote, the more I could see this girl coming back to life again.
I gave myself permission to be completely honest as I wrote and to wear my heart on my sleeve. I thought if I could also help just one person see the beauty of God in what would appear to be a horrific tragedy, then I would be fulfilling at least one of the calls on my life for that season. I didn’t want all my pain to be in vain.
Writing through the pain was very therapeutic. I think the more I wrote, the more I realized just how strong and brave I really was.
How did the writing help you process the pain?
TT: I don’t think I’ve ever felt detached from my loss, but writing just really helped me to see exactly where I had come from and exactly where I was at that moment. And I was always a little stronger with each new journal update. I couldn’t always see it for myself as I was in the middle of it, but others could see it as they read my words and watched me grow in those words.
After you “released” your painful emotions on paper, was your pain any easier to consider or discuss?
TT: Yes, I think anybody who puts their emotions on paper find it easier to discuss. It did for me and gave me the courage to get up on the platform again and speak about it. My words were coming to life on the platforms now, not just on paper.
What was most helpful to you in the midst of your grief?
TT: Giving myself permission to be honest with myself and grieve in my own way. There is no formula. I didn’t have to “pretend” anything. This was MY journey. So giving myself permission was BIG!
What good, if any, came from the tragedies you have walked through?
TT: Being able to help others every single day without even knowing it most days. We live by example, so just be the example to others and let them see a real girl letting a real God heal her. That is my gift, and I love hearing about how someone’s life or marriage has been affected or changed because of the road I’ve traveled.
Do you believe writing can act as a catalyst for healing? For anyone? Why or why not?
TT: Most definitely. Because you “get it all out” rather than keeping it all inside. It’s soooo much easier to sort out your emotions when they’re in front of you in a healthy way rather than all inside of you in one big ball of mess. Then months or years later you can go back and read through your writings to see just how far you’ve come. You can see just exactly where God met you. You can see every prayer that was answered. And maybe even some prayers that you gave up on! J
How has trauma shaped the way you relate to others?
TT: I definitely savor every moment with the ones I love with greater passion and purpose, and I feel more compassionate when it comes to others losses and sorrows. I understand. I’ve been there.
What do you understand (or believe) now that you didn’t before your loss?
TT: Things change all around us every day, but God NEVER changes. His plan was good the day we were created and it’s still good today. It sure is hard when life changes, but to know that nothing passes through the hands of God first without His permission or knowledge, gives me great comfort. Even in a storm.
You share the writings from your journal on your website – why do you do that?
TT: To hopefully help others from getting stuck on their own journey. When you start to feel like you are in this all alone, you just wanna STOP and QUIT. Something inside of us dies. I wanted to help people by sharing the road I’ve traveled openly and honestly. How ever beautiful or ugly it may be at times. J When I received my first email in response to my journal updates, saying how much I had encouraged them, and given them a reason to want to live and fight for their own spiritual lives, I knew then, that I wanted to share this part of my life with others.
How important do you think it is for women to tell their story—to get it out?
TT: It’s sooo important because it brings healing and helps you to move into the next season of your life, the next season of new beginnings. It’s up to us to pick up a pen and write a new chapter. What chapter do you want to write? That’s the cool part, God says, “Write it girl! And I’ll be with you every step of the way!”
Was scripture (biblical truth) a part of your healing process? Any specific scriptures – which ones and why?
TT: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and He saves those whose spirits have been crushed. Psalm 34:18 NCV
I have good plans for you, says the Lord, I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Jeremiah 29:11 NCV
Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. John 7:38 NKJV
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NKJV
These scriptures speak volumes to me. They are truth and they are the promises of God. Too many people break promises, but God says, “My word is good! You can bank on THAT! J So I do! J
You believe that God gives us the strength to do whatever we need to do, but what about that woman facing the pain anew—stuck in fear, anger and confusion. What encouragement would you offer her?
TT: Whatever your challenge, you will get through it. Not somehow but triumphantly. Yes, there are rainy days, but there also are sunny days. Both have their own distinct purposes. You and I may have walked through spirit-crushing circumstances, but God’s plans for our lives are good. They were good at the moment we were created and are still good today. Life is filled with beginnings and endings; some people call them chapters in life. Even though I’ve known great depths of heartache, I’ve known even greater depths of God’s love and sustaining power. True, there are some chapters that are forever closed in our lives, but as you turn the pages of your new life today, look around you and see that God continues to help you write a beautiful love story. Your story.
Connect with Tammy Trent at www.TammyTrent.com. Also check out her amazing story Learning to Breathe Again and Beyond the S