Day 264

I often wonder if anyone ends up where they thought they would end up in life. Is there anyone who is in the exact place they thought they would be, doing the exact job they thought they would do, with the exact people they thought they would be surrounded by? I’m obviously not where I thought I would be, and I think there is some kind of stigma attached to saying that out loud. Like if you admit this isn’t what you dreamed about for your life, you’ve failed in some epic way. So, everyone goes on pretending they are perfectly happy with the way things have fallen into place, instead of admitting that life isn’t actually perfect at all. God forbid we all be honest with each other.

So, I’m laying my cards out on the table. This isn’t what I dreamed life would be like for me. Obviously. I worry about finances WAY more than I did when I was married. I never know when or where my next job is going to come from. I spend my “day off” sending off submissions trying to find more work. I’m far away from my friends and family. I don’t own a house. The dream of having children becomes more unrealistic every day. I’m constantly hoping my car will continue to hold out for a few more years. I try my best to make it to the gym and count calories, because I know it helps my chances of getting hired. And my ex-husband is vacationing with his new girlfriend. So, no, this isn’t where I thought I’d be at 32.

And on the other hand…I make my living doing what I love to do best in the whole wide world. I have work lined up until March of 2016. I own a car. I can afford to pay my bills and feed myself. I am a healthy girl. My family loves me and checks up on me often. My best friend just drove 7 hours to see me in a play, then turned around and had to drive back 7 hours the next day. I have a nephew that I think is the best thing God ever created. I love my job. I have a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ. So, here I am, this is me at 32.

In the end, it’s all about perspective. And, as my Aunt Bec likes to say, it’s about having a grateful heart. We are about to enter into a season of Thanksgiving. It’s so easy, while everyone else is sharing the amazing things they are thankful for, to get lost in what others have and what we don’t have…and I certainly don’t mean material items. I mean those things our hearts desire, but aren’t within our reach. The challenge I see for myself is to constantly focus on the unexpected joys that God has brought into my life. Joys I wouldn’t have had if life had ended up the way I wanted it to end up. Joys that surprise me and overwhelm me. Joys that flood me with humility and remind me that God is in every aspect of my life.

Sometimes focusing on the blessings can be difficult. Sometimes I find myself crying out “God, what do you want me to do? Please tell me what to do!” Sometimes I feel completely lost. And then I go to work and thank God for that opportunity. I talk to my mother and thank God For that relationship. I go to the gym and thank God for my health. Because, whether this is where I thought I would be or not, the joy comes from having a grateful heart.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Day 257

Weddings are interesting. Everyone has a different idea of what a wedding should be, how it should function, what is appropriate and what isn’t, etc. But that’s just the actual day, then you throw in all the events and steps leading up to a wedding and you have quite the occasion. I was engaged for a year and a half before my wedding day, so my poor friends had to deal with my wedding talk for quite a while. They may have hated me for it, but if they did they didn’t let me know. They were beyond happy for me and so excited that my husband and I were FINALLY getting married.

They booked their plane tickets to my destination wedding, made their hotel reservations, threw us an engagement party, and because my family was so far away they took turns going with me to bridal shops to try on wedding dresses. They gave of their finances, time, and their hearts. They gave their input on invitations, wedding colors, flowers. They showered me with love and support and well wishes. One of my poor friends even had to go with me to pick up my wedding dress, stuff it into a cab, and help me walk it up five flights of stairs to my apartment (Thank you, Rachel).

And this is the part of the story where I tell you that I have the BEST friends in the entire world. And it’s not because of how well they handled my wedding. It’s not because they bought bridesmaid dresses, or listened to me complain about the cost of linens, or even because they helped me stuff dozens of welcome bags to put in guest’s hotel rooms. I have the best friends in the entire world because of how they handled my divorce.

One blog post isn’t enough to describe the pure beauty of my friends. There aren’t enough words to fully explain their dignity and grace and support and grit. Not one person has made me feel like a failure. No one has expressed remorse for the energy they put into my wedding and marriage. These super-duper strong women have been there from the moment they got the telephone call or text or e-mail that my marriage was crumbling. They have let me sleep on their couches and cry on their shoulders. They have kept me busy when I needed a distraction. They have held me when I needed comfort. They have fed me when I wouldn’t eat. Once again, they have given their all for me.

I am actually weeping as I write this post because their unselfish love overwhelms me to this day. I think it’s important to share this discovery with whomever decides to read my little blog. It’s important to say that there are amazing women in this world who are supporting each other and building each other up and putting love and strength out into this universe. Women who are truly investing in their friendships. Who take their character seriously. Who refuse to leave a fellow woman stranded. Who have the guts and overall awesomeness to stop, pick her up, and carry her if need be until she can walk on her own again.

These are the women I am proud to call my friends and sisters. These are the gifts God has given me. These are the blessings that continue to rain down upon me. This is leading and loving by example. I am humbled by them, encouraged by them, and uplifted by them.

John 15:12-13 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Day 248

Keeping it together became my new life goal. Go to work. Sleep. Eat. Pray. Just keep moving. Stay positive. Don’t imagine the worst. One day at a time. Don’t focus on the hurt. This too, shall pass. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And on it went for about two weeks. I thought I had been doing a miraculous job at pretending everything was fine and going on as if life were normal (whatever that means) until the day my boss sat me down to have a chat. We were in my little office that was only big enough to share with one other human. We sat down and he turned to me and he said, “Go home.”

He didn’t mean to go back to my apartment. He wanted me to book a flight right then and there and go to my family in Tennessee. He had already figured out that I had a week of vacation days coming to me. But instead of one week, he wanted me to take two weeks. He wanted me to be able to rest and grieve and heal around people who loved me. He could tell handling the everyday grind of work and my failing marriage was making me a wreck. He offered me an escape from life…and I took it.

My parents were thrilled to hear I was coming home. Lord only knows how worried they were about me. My husband and therapist even agreed it was a good idea. My therapist thought it would be “healthy” for me and I’m sure my husband needed a break from my constantly trying to “fix us.” I remember how good it felt to put up my “out of office” message on my work computer. Rest was so close. Safety was so close. I was going home.

My father picked me up at the Nashville airport. And I felt strange. I was his adult daughter who had to come home and be taken care of. Our relationship was different than it had been when I lived with them as a teenager. There were boundaries now. I looked at him and knew I had nothing to give. I couldn’t talk about it. There were no words to use to describe to my father what my husband had put me through. I knew he was waiting on me to make the first move, following my lead, but I had nothing. I was ashamed to even be in this situation. Embarrassed that he had to save me. Sad that I didn’t have a solution.

We drove the two hours to my hometown and pulled into our driveway, where I knew my mother was waiting for me. Of course she was. Waiting to see what state I was in. Waiting to make a plan. Waiting to see what kind of damage had been done. Hell, waiting to feed me. They let me unpack and gave me space and eventually my mother came in to check on me. I remember looking up at her and saying weakly, “I don’t want to get a divorce.” And then the tears started. I was home and I was safe and I was loved and I was exhausted and I could finally say what I truly wanted to say. I didn’t want to get a divorce.

God not only gave me a safe haven when I needed it, he facilitated my being able to reach that haven. He was with my parents as they dealt with a broken daughter. He gave them the wisdom to stop and listen to me say the thing my heart desired most. Looking back, I can’t even imagine what kind of nightmare that must have been for them, plus having to know that I wanted to go back into the fire and try again and again and again to put my marriage back together. And they had to let me. They had to let me at least try. But I could only have the courage to try because I had the knowledge that no matter what, there would always be home.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Day 245

I’m not the only person who this has happened to. I know that. It seems like almost every day I hear of another marriage ending, a woman waking up to find her world completely turned upside down. Her life partner becoming a stranger. Her brain turning to mush as she tries to comprehend it all. And you know what? I’ll tell you my very first thought, every time I hear about this, “I wonder what this man’s mother thinks of her son’s actions?!” Isn’t that odd? I’m sure it’s not a fair thought to think, but fair or not that is what enters my mind.

Yes, I also realize that this problem happens to men as well. But I’m not a man so I just don’t have that perspective. I’m not in any way saying that a son’s actions reflect his mother at all, but I do know that the person I have turned out to be has been highly influenced by my parents and they would be ashamed of me if I had ever behaved in such a manner. Ashamed, disappointed, sad, maybe even angry. I can imagine the way my mother grits her teeth and uses her hands to make a point. I can see the sorrow in my father’s eyes. Not living up to their expectations of me is perhaps one of my greatest fears.

So, in thinking on this, a lot of questions and emotions have come up. Why didn’t my mother-in-law want to help me? Why couldn’t she find the strength to hold her son accountable? Why, at 32, do I still so desperately want to please my parents? And if I care that much about my earthly parents, why don’t I always put that kind of emotional investment in how much I try to please my Heavenly Father? I worry about my hurt, my pain, my future…if I turned that selfish worry into selfless praise I wonder how my life would change.

Disclaimer: My parents are truly a gift from God. They make me feel loved every day of my life. They have given me two strong and beautiful sisters. In many way, they have given me my faith and help to nurture my relationship with Jesus Christ, so any issue I may have has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me…and perhaps my ex in-laws;)

Galatians 1: 10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”