Day 327

Last year I made a list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions. Things to work on in my career, personal life, spiritual life, and also goals of what I wanted to put out into the world. I realized today that I had accomplished 9 out of the 10 items on that list…which inspired me to make my top ten list for 2016. It’s funny to look at your goals from a year ago and compare them to your goals today. In many ways I have come so far. I changed my name back to my maiden name and have really worked on liking that girl again. Discovering who she is now, owning the differences, and trying to look at the future differently and accepting that there is still joy in this unknown world I am living in.

In many ways I have also fallen short. Certain aspects of my life have been harder to handle. I have lacked growth in areas that I had assumed would be easier to conquer. It’s a difficult balance in congratulating yourself for your mini milestones and still realizing your flaws. Sometimes I want to scream to the universe, “I’m still here! I survived this. I went a whole year making a living doing what I love to do most in the world. Go me!” But then that other voice inside of me objects, “Let’s get real…I’m based out of my parents home and live out of my Honda.” It’s clearly a fine line.

This is what I have decided: I must constantly hold myself accountable, raise my standards, and strive to be proud of myself every day…but I must also take joy in those small achievements. It isn’t bragging…it’s finding peace. Last New Year’s Eve I was completely and utterly depressed. I had no idea what I was doing with my life. I felt terrible about myself. I felt lost. Sad. Sad. Sad. Friends called me from a party they were all attending and as gracious as it was of them to think of me, it made me feel so alone. I took a selfie with my dog and went to bed early vowing that next year would be different. And it is.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I’m not depressed. At least not in the same way. I’m still “alone” for lack of a better term, but I certainly have a clearer understanding of who I am and what I like about myself. My scope has definitely gotten larger and I’ve grown to learn how many other people have experienced pain or personal setbacks or loss. There’s a whole clan of us who have had to wake up, grab our lives by the tail, and say “I’ve Got This!”

So, on this New Year’s Eve, I want to say “Cheers!” Cheers to everyone whose heart is hurting, but still glorifies Jesus Christ. Cheers to those who don’t know where life will take them, but have put their trust in The Lord. Cheers to the women who suddenly have to do it all alone with only the faith that God is with them every step of the way. Cheers to you! You are my inspiration. You are strong. You are worthy. You are proof that even while you are still working on your lives, God is still working on you.

Philippians 1:6 “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Day 315

I’ve always felt that the best compliment someone can give me on my blog is to say they appreciate my honesty. Being brutally honest about my hopes, fears, desires, and coming to terms with this chapter of my life is terrifying. One of my readers told me they appreciated watching me “surrender to God.” Those words painted a beautiful picture in my mind. The main reason I started this blog was, quite simply, because God told me to write. Surrendering to God’s will is pretty much the only thing that has brought me joy in the past two years. I don’t always know exactly what God wants from me, but every now and then he speaks to me so clearly and I know that obeying him is the only way to find peace.

This is all fine and dandy and I could sit here all day and pat myself on the back for obeying God…but what about those times when I don’t hear him so clearly? Is it that he isn’t speaking? Is he waiting for me to pull myself together? Am I not listening? I’m a girl that follows directions well and I am constantly seeking God’s road map for my life. I want to follow him, as efficiently as possible from point A to point B and so on. I’d like a list of goals he wants me to achieve and I think that if God could just write me out a detailed description of how he wants me to live my life, then I could conquer the world and be Woman of the Year.

I am currently in an ambiguous place in my life. Nothing is certain or steady. Work, finances, living situation, even friendships aren’t nearly as cemented as I would like. Is this truly a location on my personal road map? How long am I supposed to be here? When do I get to move on? Why can’t I hear God now? What if I make the wrong choice? These are basically the questions I ask myself every morning when I wake up. I feel like I am falling behind, not getting to the next destination quick enough, taking a huge detour…not even Siri could get me back on track at this point.

Why, when I so desperately want to follow God’s will, do I feel like he isn’t speaking to me anymore? I struggle with this about a hundred times a day. It’s exhausting.  But maybe, just maybe…and I am totally going out on a limb here…maybe I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. Maybe God is trying to teach me to “bloom where I’m planted.” Maybe this destination on my road map is the perfect stop for me right now. Maybe I’ll never know why I had to stay in this uncertainly for so long…and maybe that’s ok. Maybe God is speaking, but I’m too busy struggling with myself to hear.

It’s not that I won’t let God take over the controls of my life. I trust him to take me anywhere, but surrendering to the fact that he might possibly WANT me to hang tight in this ambiguity is baffling to me. Surrendering to the reality that I don’t always understand God’s will is difficult. Surrendering myself so that I can hear better is a skill I am still working on. Then again, surrendering my fears just might help me to better enjoy the ride.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Day 309

The end of my two weeks at home fell on a very important day. My baby sister’s 21st birthday. I realize she is not a baby, but I have two younger sisters, so one is the “little” sister and one is the “baby” sister. It’s easier to keep them straight that way. Originally, the entire family had planned to come home for the weekend for a big family celebration. Which meant my little sister and brother-in-law would drive down from Washington D.C. and my husband and I would fly from New York. The plane tickets had been purchased, time off had been requested, everything was arranged. Except my husband was a no-show.

Sure, by now we can all assume that he had never truly planned to actually get on a plane and face my family…but my little naive heart still held out hope. After all, he had a plane ticket…maybe he would fly down and we could all talk this out, cry, hug, and move on with our lives. But he wasn’t coming. Instead, he had flown to LA to hang out with a “friend.” I wouldn’t let my thoughts turn to who he was actually with and what he was actually doing. My family could guess. Everyone could guess. Everyone but me.

This was one moment of many where I learned how to pretend that everything was ok. Eventually, I became a champion of putting on a “happy face.” But let’s look at this moment realistically, my entire family is home, we are sitting around our dining room table, my husband has made it clear he doesn’t love me anymore, and I’m the moron serving cake and ice cream to everyone.

My baby sister was the hopeful one. Bless her. My little sister was all about action. She had a plan already in place to get me out of our apartment, out of the marriage, and on with life. She had already moved on for me. My precious brother-in-law sat there looking pained, realizing I had to do this my way in my time. It was a sibling council, a call to arms, and I couldn’t pull the trigger. They knew that in a few short days they would be sending me back to the battlefield. They wanted so badly to save me from any future attacks. But I had already made up my mind.

After that weekend, I packed my things and my father took me back to the airport. To fly away from him and the safety he provided. I don’t know what was going through his head. I am amazed to this day that he didn’t fly up there with me just to punch my husband in the face. I’m sure he wanted to. I had mixed emotions. I believed I had a rough road ahead of me, but I also believed everything would turn out ok. Part of me wanted to keep on hiding, but the other part knew I had to face reality.

The interesting thing about my naivety is that it also came with a boldness. God was on my side. I had read the scriptures. I knew he loved marriage. I knew he had blessed our marriage. And for a very long time, that knowledge was enough for me to hold on. To work. To fight. To pray.

To be bold in our faith of God…If there is ever anything we should remember to hang onto, I believe it is that boldness. We all hurt. We face trials. We fail. And when we are unsure of the next step, the answer is to always Be Bold in our Faith of the Lord. There is bravery in that boldness.

Ephesians 6:19: “And also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”

Day 304

I’ve never been the kind of girl that has it all together, but I’ve always wanted to be that kind of woman. My mother was the queen of making every holiday special, ensuring that Christmas was perfect, creating traditions that mean so much to my sisters and me. I think, deep down, I’ve always wanted to be that kind of person, that kind of wife, that kind of mother.

It started when I was a little girl. From making my family watch claymation Christmas movies to baking cookies. If you ask my sisters they will tell you that you do not mess with me when it comes to frosting a Christmas cookie. My need to create holiday traditions followed me to college; making my own ornaments, forcing my roomies to go see “The Nutcracker”, planning holiday light adventures. It got worse when I met my husband. Decorating our tiny apartment was a frustrating task. We didn’t really have the space to do much, but I insisted on storing decorations all year long so that I could try to turn our tiny home into a winter wonderland for one month out of every year. I took Christmas shopping very seriously…and went to the extreme when it went to Christmas wrapping. I wanted us to start our own little family traditions as soon as possible and I took pride in being a wife he could depend on to fill our home with joy while completing all the necessary holiday arrangements.

The reality is that I’m not very good at any of those things. My present wrapping ability never matches up to what I imagine it will be in my head. I’m not a very good baker. My tree decorating skills lack much to be desired. I’m certainly no Martha Stewart. I always look pudgier than I want in my Christmas dress and my Christmas cards tend to end up smudged with ink. Try as I might, I never could be the wife I wanted to be at Christmas.

And now it’s Christmas and I’m not a wife. My first official divorced Christmas. I’m living in a cast house with three room mates. I put up a tiny tree in our common room and hung some stockings on the banister. I haven’t watched a Christmas movie since I got here. My Christmas decorations from my “married life” are all boxed up in storage. I won’t be sending out Christmas cards, because what am I supposed to say? “Happy Holidays!  This year I got divorced. Wishing you a glorious New Year!” Any holiday tradition my husband and I had is pointless now. I’ve changed from the “try to be perfect girl” into the “make it work girl.”

The dream of what I had envisioned my Christmases becoming isn’t going to come true. And when the dreams you had start to die, you look around and grieve the losses. You imagine what could have been. The family Christmas photo, the child you hope to have and their face on Christmas morning, making those family memories together…for years to come. All of these things come to my mind, and so much more.

And then I am reminded of the one constant of Christmas. Married, divorced, single, childless, alone…whatever your station in life…Christ still comes. Maybe, when you are forced to strip it all away, this simple reminder is truly a gift. Not a reminder of what I lack, but a reminder of what I have. Christ. He is still the center of my life and my holiday. The promise that this tiny King gave to our world still rings true. Mary didn’t seem so concerned with baking and decorating and wrapping. She was on a mission, a warrior for God in her own way.

I have been humbled. Forced to let go of the woman I wanted to become. And now hoping, that like Mary, I can be a warrior for Christ in my own way. Because the good news is that, no matter what, Christ still comes.

Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”