Day 416

Today is Good Friday. Arguably the darkest day in our history. Sunday is Easter. A day full of hope and redemption and a reminder of eternal life. As Christians, these days touch our hearts and are a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice for all mankind. The saddest time and the happiest time…separated by only three days.

Most of our days on earth fall somewhere in between. We have our share of rough moments and joyful moments. But where do you stand on your own personal darkest days? Where do you stand when you can’t see the hope? It’s easy to praise God on Easter. It’s easy to have a grateful heart when you realize all your sins are forgiven. It’s easy to show grace when evil is being defeated. It’s easy to be strong when no one is challenging your faith. The question is, do you know who you are when the darkness suffocates you? It is too hard to start trying to figure out God’s justice while we’re in the middle of destruction. We need to work out our faith ahead of time.

We all have our personal “worsts.” The worst thing that has happened to you. The worst day of your life. The worst case scenario coming true. Mine has been my divorce (clearly…that’s why I’m writing this blog). I realize other people have had worst “worsts” that I, but this is the worst that defines my life. And now, looking back on my worst, I see beyond a doubt, what saved me. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Living in my own personal hell, but waking up knowing that God was with me helped me handle my days with as much grace as possible. As my baby sister would say, “You gotta know where you are in your faith, before you need it.”

The other side of this is the “Easter” part of our lives. We tend to expect perfection out of the Easter moments. The perfect outfit, the perfect meal, the perfect hymns…even the perfect Easter picture. But on that first Easter, do you think everyone was perfectly joyful? My bet is that they were more confused than anything else. “The tomb is empty…where is the body? This is nuts!” The joy isn’t found in the perfection, it’s found in the miracle. Not in the meal, but in the company. Not in the picture, but in the story. Not in the pageantry of one day, but in the gift of everlasting life.

Know God during Easter so you can cling to him during Good Friday.

Matthew 28:6 “He is not here, for he has risen, just as he said.”

Advertisements

Day 411

My ex-husband and I started dating when I was 23 years old. Therefore, my entire adult life, up until recently, was spent with him. When we got married I thought about how beautiful it was that we had “grown up together” as adults. We had watched each other grow as people. We had grown in our careers. Grown in our dreams. Grown in our lifestyle. We moved ourselves to a lovely little apartment on the Upper West Side in New York City. He had become incredibly successful in his chosen profession and I had gone from a girl with no clue to a young woman who was starting to find her voice in this crazy city.

We also, very naturally, fell into our relationship roles. I knew he was smarter than I was. He was great at math, and he took on the financial responsibilities in our little household. He made our budget and I trusted him completely with our expenses. Driving has always stressed me out, so when we went out of town he was the chauffeur. I am technically inept, so anything to do with technology was completely his territory. He even took care of my least favorite chore: taking out the trash.

I made use of my gifts by decorating our tiny space. I utilized every square inch and successfully turned our apartment into a home we could be proud of. I did the grocery shopping, I kept things tidy, dropped off the dry cleaning, and made sure each family member received a card on their birthday. I always felt that my gifts weren’t as important as his. I mean, you can survive without a cute apartment…but understanding how to back up your hard drive is vital. Still, I knew my gifts came from God and I was called to use them to the best of my ability, no matter what my personal views were of my skill set.

It honestly never bothered me that I leaned on him so much. That’s part of what defines a relationship. It’s give and take. Learning when to lead and when to follow. Being proud of your partner’s accomplishments, being proud of what you each bring to the “team”, being proud of yourself for being a positive support system. I felt that this was just one more reason that we were meant to be husband and wife. In our living situation, we complimented each other well. But folks, that didn’t mean we were going to be the perfect married couple, it just meant we worked well as roommates. But “Hurray” for me for being so positive.

Fast forward to my current living situation. All those things I was banking on having a partner take care of for me in my life, have become my problems and mine alone. Every day I realize more and more what I can’t do. At times it has become overwhelming. During my divorce, when the time came for me to leave my husband’s cell phone plan, I had a mini breakdown. I didn’t know how to save all of my photos and videos and apps. The thought of embarrassing myself in front of the poor Verizon worker gave me a panic attack. Should I upgrade? Keep my iPad on my data plan? Was there a way to save voicemails? My time frame for completing this task was growing short and I found tears welling up in my eyes as I prepared to leave the cast house and journey to the mall. This was just the beginning of many realizations I would have about what I couldn’t do or didn’t know. I’ve spent a lot of the last two years terrified.
Through these experiences I have learned three important things. The first is that I haven’t lost the ability to learn, and I am a smart woman. If I come to a challenge I haven’t faced before, I figure it out. Driving still makes me nervous, but I do it. I drive constantly. In two days I will drive 10 hours from DC to Tennessee and a week after that I will drive from Tennessee to Florida. My tires seemed low, and I didn’t know how to check tire pressure…so I googled how to do it, drove myself to a gas station, and put more air in my tires. I looked like a fool, but I did it. I’ve driven in snow, rain, and hail. Every day I face my driving fear and slowly but surely I am getting better with my road skills.

The second thing I have learned is that it is perfectly fine to rely on other people. Doesn’t make me weak or stupid or a failure. And what’s really lovely is that God gives me the people I need with the skills I need at the perfect time when I need them. Remember my terrible cell phone experience? As I was starting to panic and drive my crying self to the Verizon store at the mall, who should appear but Jake. He helped me back up my iPhoto, iTunes, contacts, etc. He helped me research which phone I should buy, how much data I would need, and which case would best protect my phone. He also helped me buy an external hard drive, so I can back up everything I own and he is beyond patient with me when I call way too early in the morning with a computer related question. He even chose the typewriter I am using to write this blog post. Not every human is going to know everything about this ever changing world, it’s truly beautiful when we are able to help each other out. Vulnerability and humility never equal weakness.

The last and most important thing I have learned is that my gifts aren’t less than or greater than anyone else’s gifts. My gifts may not be as practical as others, but they matter in different ways. My attention to detail is appreciated, when friends and family get a card from me it makes them feel special, my positivity has served me well and is even inspiring. I thought for years that my life was like a puzzle, and my ex-husband was the missing piece. The important piece that helped everything make sense. The piece that completed my life. The piece that held the whole puzzle together. Now it’s just me…and I am enough. I’m not missing a piece or a specific quality or set of skills.

I recently heard, “Faith makes everything possible…not easy.” Nothing about this life changing process has been easy. Re-learning how to live my life has been just plan hard. But I got this. And as my faith continues to grow, along with God’s guidance, I am going to be just fine…but I still really appreciate it when someone else takes out the trash.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”

Day 405

 

God’s provision can sometimes be a tricky subject matter. I have found that most of the time it boils down to what folks think their provision should be vs. taking a step back and accepting God’s gifts in whatever form they come. We all want the blessings, but we’d like them how and when we personally want them, please and thank you. We plan the outline of our lives and expect God to get onboard and make it happen. We remember to thank him when it’s convenient, instead of exploding with gratitude for every moment he gives us on this precious earth. I have been beyond guilty of this attitude, and in the uncertainty of my life have found that one of God’s greatest gifts to me has been the way he has taught me to love him and know him in a brand new way. Has it been worth the pain to learn these lessons? I can now say with certainty, yes. Growing in my relationship with the Lord is worth going through a divorce one hundred times over.

One of my constant fears is employment. I rationalize this as a reasonable fear, because a girl has to pay her bills, right? It’s just me now. I am the sole provider for my household and I take being responsible for myself very seriously. I am an actress, who drives her trusty Honda from stage job to stage job…I consider finding my next contract a very important part of what I do. It takes up time, and I think and stress about it way more than I should. But, this is the field I have chosen, it brings my soul more joy than I could ever imagine, and I accept that uncertainty is often part of this life I am blessed to lead. No regrets.

I have been struggling lately with trusting in God’s provision. I have been on stage, consistently, for the past year and a half and all of a sudden I found myself without an upcoming contract. Nothing seemed to be panning out and time was ticking! Every day I would submit myself for jobs, and I was coming to the point where I really needed to decide how I was going to pay my bills when my current contract ended. Keeping the faith was becoming a struggle. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to start looking for work outside my chosen profession. And, I know this sounds selfish, but I truly feel in my heart of hearts that I am supposed to be an actress. I feel it in my gut and it makes me happy and the thought of not doing it makes me ill. So, this is what I have been faced with, and this is what I have been working on coming to terms with, and sometimes that’s life.

And y’all, God came through. In so many ways. I consider it a small miracle. First off, he surrounded me with an entire company of humans who supported me. There are too many names and thank yous to even begin to mention them all. I call them people blessings. When God provides the right people at the right time in your life who help remind you to believe in yourself. My life has become this beautiful patchwork quilt of souls that God has given me. It continues to grow and each patch is an intricate piece of art that defines a special person who has added so much to my life. Talk about blessings upon blessings.

The second part of my mini miracle is this: last week, on a day like any other, after my morning workout, I came back to my room and checked my phone…and there it was. A job offer. I had submitted last summer for a job that I didn’t get, but this company remembered me, needed an actress for a show, and had contacted ME! The timeline for rehearsals and show schedule was beyond perfect, the role excited me, I was overwhelmed. I immediately fell to my knees (while still wearing my sweaty workout clothes) and began sobbing uncontrollably. I held my face in my hands and through sobs began praising God. My God. The God who always provides. The God who gave me the passions I have. The God who knows the desires of heart. The God who has a path for my life. The God who loves me, even when my faith falters. The God who gently teaches me how to grow in my knowledge of him. The God who gives more than I could ever repay.

So, yes, this relationship with my Heavenly Father is worth any pain that I have endured. These lessons are worth the discomforts that come with an imperfect world. The joy that fills my heart, which is given from above, is worth the uncertainty of this earthy life. This reminder has been humbling. My hope is that I am reminded to constantly fall to my knees to praise the God whose provisions are always perfect. Every day. To learn to patiently follow the path he has made for me. And to constantly create gratitude for each patch of quilt he adds to my life.

Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Day 397

I survived the rest of the wedding weekend. The next morning we got up, packed the car, and drove back to his parent’s house. I tried to talk about his behavior the previous evening, but was shut down and frankly didn’t have the strength to persue an argument. I was exhausted for so many reasons. Lack of sleep, the stress of worrying about his choices, the emotional toll of trying to stay positive about our crumbling union, and never knowing when this painful void in my soul would end. I was constantly seeking rest, but knew none would come.

I remember feeling so alone when we finally reached his parent’s home. I needed an anchor. I needed someone on my side. I needed the promise that all this pain was worth enduring. I kept waiting for someone to help me come up with a plan, to be honest about this very real problem, to start working on holding my husband accountable…but we weren’t talking about it. I felt like I was stranded on an island, screaming for help, but no sound was coming out. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, I pulled my father in law aside and told him I needed to talk. I think he could hear the utter desperation in my voice. We got in his car and he drove me to a really lovely spot and we walked and we talked.

I look back on that day and I am thankful for the opportunity to say freely what I felt in my heart that I needed to say. I expressed my true fears. I was honest about what our lives had become. And more importantly, I asked for help. I knew guiding my husband through this difficult time in his life was not something I could do alone. I needed support. I asked for the support of his family. I asked them to support me. To support us. I asked my father in law to turn to God’s word and help guide my husband back to Christ. To me, even then, our marriage wasn’t a mistake. It was a covenant that I refused to break. I wasn’t finished fighting, but I knew I needed to call for reinforcements.

I didn’t receive the strength I needed. The troops didn’t come running to my aid. At least not the way I had hoped…the hows and whys don’t really matter. In the end, I think I took the battle more seriously than they did. But when you’re fighting for the thing you love most in the world, of course you’re going to take it seriously. I hope everyone takes their marriage that seriously. I know God does…and I will never regret taking that commitment seriously. Ever.

The next day we left. We got on a bus and rode back to our little home in a big city where my tiny heart was still hoping for a huge miracle. I felt a sense of relief in making it through the weekend unscathed. But I really hadn’t, had I? If that was my definition of unscathed, then my outlook on life was quite distorted…and it was. Upon reflection, I realize how clearly I was crying out for help. I also realize that it was incredibly difficult for me to ask for that help. Why? Why didn’t I feel fully confident in reaching out to his family (who, in turn, were my family) to help me mend our marriage? I’m proud that I did, but it took a lot of courage.

Asking for help is important. It’s a necessity. It’s hard to live this Christian life without the support and accountability of others. Having that person you can go to with any problem, prayer request, fear, or joy is imperative. I’m blessed, at this juncture of my life, to have many. My sister, Anna, helps me stay close to God’s word. My sister, Emily, keeps me moving forward. Jake refuses to let me give up. Cheyenne prays for me daily. I am surrounded by women who make the Lord a priority, and that pushes me to better focus on my relationship with him. These are all blessings.

It’s important to remember, when we feel that we need an anchor…we have one. Giving Jesus the power to keep us grounded is essential. And when we need those earthly reinforcements, he will provide them. They may not come in the form we expected, not everyone has the strength to handle the call. But they are there, reminding us that we weren’t meant to merely survive this life…they are there, through the Grace of God, to push us to thrive. I am thankful to those who continue to answer the call, hold me accountable in my journey, and force me to thrive.

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”