Day 632

I’m no therapist, but I’d have to say one of the ways you know you’re healing after a major pitfall in your life is when you are finally able to laugh at yourself. It’s probably good, in general, to be able to have a big ole laugh at your own expense every once in awhile. Humans are pretty hilarious and the things we do and say are down right ridiculous. Most days, I’m a complete mess, which I find hysterical (and sometimes sad). But looking back on some of the decisions I made during “that rotten time when my ex-husband was cheating on me” truly give me pause. Being Southern, I feel it only fair to be completely honest about the crazy things I’ve done. I wear my crazy like a badge of honor. I like to parade it around, dress it up, and show it off. I go big or go home. It’s a miracle I still have friends.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know my obsession with trying to make the holiday season perfect. The December of “the year of the affair” was no different. This was our second Christmas as a married couple. Yes, you read that correctly. We had only ONE happily married Christmas. Pitiful. Note to self: It’s time to get rid of the Mr. And Mrs. Christmas ornaments. I refused to truly acknowledge the severity of my situation. So y’all, in true “let’s pretend that everything will eventually be fine and perfect and wonderful” fashion…I sent out Christmas cards.  

Not just Christmas cards that you buy at the store. Oh no. I sent out the Christmas cards that you design online with pictures on the front AND back. Christmas cards that have that very general personalized message on them. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Odds are you send them out and get about 50 in return. It’s the cool thing to do these days. Use a picture of something super amazing that you’ve done the past year or use a professional shot of you and your family all dressed up, but posing casually like “oh, we just hang out like this all the time.” They are printed on heavy card stock with a fantastical holiday themed layout. You write something clever about your year and mail them out to friends and family who get said Christmas card picture, but aren’t surprised by anything, because they’ve been following your life on Facebook, so these perfectly thought out cards aren’t actually news to them or anyone else. Don’t get offended. You know it’s true. 

Anywho, I love those cards and I wanted to be the kind of wife that designed a beautiful Christmas card for her little family. I had big plans to keep a scrapbook of every Christmas card we sent out in our lives together. I just knew it would be so precious to watch how we evolved over the years. Maybe one year we’d have a pet in the picture, then a baby, then another baby. I’d pose our future family in coordinated outfits with strategically placed monograms on their clothing. Facebook wouldn’t be able to do it justice. There was no way in the world I was going to let there be a lapse of a holiday card in our family timeline, so even though our marriage was going to hell in a hand basket, I made Christmas cards. They were actually super cute. I used pictures of us from the half marathon we had run the month before. On the front of the card we were standing with our race bibs and on the back we were posing with Dopey and our race medals. I even used the bible verse Psalm 119:32, “I run in the path…” Personally, I only like Christmas cards that have to do with Jesus, because obviously there would be no Christmas without Jesus. Non- Jesus Christmas cards drive me nuts. I don’t get it…so I made sure to add lots of “Jesus” to our card. I was ridiculously proud of my work. One might have thought we were actually happily married. 

I wish I could show you these absurd cards that I sent out. But, for legal reasons, I can’t say my ex-husband’s name or show his likeness. I suppose that’s fair. But, if you could see these cards, then you would see a perfect example of my crazy. I was off my rocker. I actually sent out these cards. Hell, I was PROUD of them. Friends and family received these cards from me. I hadn’t told a lot of people about the trials and tribulations of our current situation, so most people probably thought is was a perfectly executed and insanely clever Christmas card (if I do say so myself), and those that knew what was going on probably thought I was a nut bag. And they would be correct. 

Here’s the kicker: People stuck with me through my crazy. This particular instance is certainly not the only crazy thing I did during this time of my life. I had friends and family who had to watch me do one crazy thing after another…and they still stood next to me. Crazy and all. They opened a Christmas card from me, where I designed the life I wanted instead of the life I had… they saw it for what it was, and they didn’t run. They also didn’t make fun of me, which they certainly had every right to do. God bless each and every one of them. 

More often than not we are “sending out” the life we want instead of the life we have. More often than not we show the world how we wish to be known, instead of who we truly are. More often than not we are hiding our ugly parts and filtering our circumstances so we can be seen from our best angle. It’s exhausting. It’s sad. And it’s basically living a lie. Gross. I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore. What am I supposed to say that hasn’t been said? What is there to see that you can’t see on social media? What do you want to know that you can’t find out from picking up the phone and asking me? Maybe someday I’ll get back into the Christmas card game. But the only real message I want to send out is this: If your Christmas isn’t about Jesus, then you don’t understand Christmas. 

*Special shout out to Laura Cady Guzewicz, who sends out the best and most honest Christmas cards. I treasure them. 

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

Day 624

If you have a bowl and you drop it and it breaks, you may have the ability to put it back together. The fixed bowl will still be able to function as a bowl, but it will look slightly different. It’s still a bowl, it still has the ability to do all the tasks required of a bowl, but it is altered. The change may be difficult to see. You may be a brilliant bowl fixer, therefore all who see the bowl are unaware of how badly it was broken, but the truth remains. The bowl broke. It is not the same bowl it was. It has cracks, it might be chipped in a couple places, the paint might be peeling. It has changed.

I have always hated change. Just ask my parents or anyone who helped raise me. As a kid, I got upset when my parents bought a new telephone for our house. We had a perfectly good yellow phone and they changed it to white. I was livid. Obviously, over the years I’ve had to learn to accept change as inevitable. Life changes. Seasons change. People change. Gone are the days when the most upsetting change was the color of a telephone. Ironically, for a girl who hates change, change itself has become the only true constant in my new world. 

When I think about who I am today versus who I was three years ago, the reality of my “change” seriously starts to set in. People always say, “When you’re at your worst, you have nowhere to go but up.” But that’s not true. The truth is that when you’re at your worst, you have two options: to change or not to change. To rebuild or to stay broken. To move or to stand still. You always have a choice. But here is the thing no one tells you… (aren’t you lucky that you’re reading my blog…cause I am about to drop some knowledge!) if you choose option A, if you choose to move to rebuild to “go up”, you will change. You. Will. Change. 

You can’t not change. You will grow. You will start from the depths of your own personal hell and you will look around and see pieces of yourself scattered in all directions. Once you have the energy, you will search until you have found all the pieces that you love best and you will start to put them back together. Over time, and perhaps unbeknownst to yourself, you will discover that you are a whole person again. You are still you, but you are transformed. Yes, you have cracks and chips and scars, those are inevitable changes. But, if you’ve let God guide your life, if you’ve been leaning on him, if you allowed his grace to carry you, then you’re change is beautiful. You aren’t just a broken person who is functioning again, you are a child of God who is flourishing. 

The downside to the new you is that a lot of people won’t understand. Some of your dearest friends won’t appreciate your wholeness. They won’t recognize what your cracks symbolize. They won’t be able to see that each crack has become a wound from your battle, and that you are no longer ashamed. You take pride in the crack that is crooked, but shows your strength. You have learned to love the crack that is messy, but shows your tender heart. You have learned to be grateful for the biggest crack of them all, that tells the world you are a lover AND a fighter. These imperfections are what you have grown to appreciate most about yourself, and so many will be blind. They will still see them as imperfections. They won’t realize these golden cracks are what make you beautiful. 

Personally, my change has definitely come with growing pains. I am not the me I was at the beginning of this saga, but how could I be? The old me was a great girl, a peach, a jewel. But so is the new me…she’s just a different girl, a different peach, a different jewel. How can anyone come out of the fire unchanged? My hope is that through this change I’ve grown. I hope I can say I’m closer in my walk with Jesus Christ. I hope when people meet me they see the love of God shine through me. I hope I’ve gained integrity and knowledge and grace. I hope that eventually my cracks will start sprouting a garden of all the beautiful characteristics that make up who I am. 

I am not a bowl. Fixing a bowl would be easier. I am not a telephone. Dealing with the adjustment of a new phone would be less dramatic. I am just a girl who likes tacos and who is finally learning to be thankful for her change. 

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be he transformed by the renewing of your mind, that he may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 

Day 608

My family stayed in New York for several days. They never came back up to my apartment or spent any more time with my ex-husband during that trip (or ever, for that matter). Instead, we did every possible activity available to do in New York City during the holidays. It would take several blog posts to fully describe all of our activities during those few days, but family vacation planning isn’t really what this blog is about, so I’ll spare you the play by play. I’d rather focus on certain moments. I’ve started to refer to memories like these as my moments of mercy. Mercy can be defined many different ways. When most people think of “mercy” they think of God showing forgiveness to some one who should be treated harshly. But there is another definition. Mercy can also be thought of as a kindness to someone who is in a bad or desperate situation. That’s the kind of mercy God showered down upon me.

I don’t think I’m a talented enough writer to properly describe the amount of pain I was in during this time in my life. And the reality is that I would have to endure even more pain in the months to come. If I’m being 100% honest, I spent about a year of my life in constant pain. When I didn’t think it could get any worse, it did. When I didn’t think it was possible to hurt any more, the suffering increased. When I had begun to try to handle one disaster, another would arise. It was a living hell. A constant hell. In many ways, my agony was all consuming.

Now here’s where the “but” comes in. BUT, even in this ceaseless hell God showed me moments of mercy. When I think back to the time I spent with my family in New York I certainly remember the agony I was going through. Of course I do. BUT I also remember drinking hot apple cider at The Boathouse in Central Park. I remember walking with my sister in the snow. I remember seeing the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. I remember taking my father to my favorite pub. I remember watching my mother’s face as she watched the dancers in a Broadway show. I remember Cheyenne meeting us for my dad’s birthday dinner. I remember those moments of mercy clearly. Those moments of reprieve. Those gifts.

They are gifts in more than one way. Yes, the time I spent with my family was a gift during a terrible period in my life. Being able to feel loved and enjoy my life for a few days was certainly a gift. But those precious moments of mercy are also a gift today, because now when I look back to that year. That miserable year. The year before the healing could even begin, I have happy pockets of time that I can recall. I can say with confidence that I did not let the actions of this man take away an entire year of my ability to feel anything but pain. My ability to feel loved. My ability to give love.

Kiddos, that’s mercy. Mercy that only our Heavenly Father can give. God has given us all free will. Sometimes people use that free will to make poor choices that hurt others. My ex-husband was one of those people. Then God, in his infinite wisdom, sprinkled moments of mercy throughout my life. Not just so that I could make it through a rough patch, but so when I looked back I would be reminded of God’s provision in my life. Reminded that I am always being held by God. Reminded that HE is the author of my story. HE is the great architect of my life. HE is the artist who will mold me, with his merciful hands, into the woman HE created me to be.

Psalms 145:9 “The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works.”