The Light IN The Tunnel

You know what’s mind boggling? It’s amazing how many “fish in the sea” out there are SO incompatible to me. Cheers to online dating and how much it totally shows you what you DON’T want. Haha! Yes, I have entertained the online world. I never thought I would. But I also never thought I would be a hundred things I am now: divorced, single, not on stage leading worship as often, alone, searching, crawling. Yeah, nothing in life is surefire. So take it from me: don’t put all your eggs in one typical expected basket. God has plenty of other baskets in mind.

But in all seriousness. It has been a whirlwind past couple months. I ended a relationship that I wished so deeply would work. I browsed others. I’ve experienced thought processes I never thought I would. I walked in the shoes of people I used to judge for years. (God kinda does that)

And the most daunting of it all, I had the overwhelming scary conversation with my daughter that I totally hoped wouldn’t come till like five years from now. Well no, it happened. In the car about two weeks ago. I am so grateful that I now understand God’s grace so much deeper that I could actually have a conversation about my husband’s decisions without a single bash at him. Let’s just say, that wasn’t completely me speaking throughout that conversation. That was a mix of my amazing counselor’s words of grace and wisdom, and God’s very obvious presence and words spoken through me.

I’m sure you’re curious how on earth I navigated that conversation. Well, in a grace-filled nutshell, I shared with my daughter a concept that was probably very foreign to other eight-year-old’s in the 50’s. I shared about the choices people make today to love whoever they want to love because they can’t help it, even though it’s nowhere near God’s original design for them. And I shared why God wants us to love through that. To love through our disagreement, through our pain, through our shock because in reality, that’s exactly what He would do if He were in our shoes. It doesn’t seem right to us, to the church, to my mother for that matter. LOL. But it’s who He is and if we claim we want to be like Him, it might take a little discomfort and offensive grace to get there.

Speaking of discomfort, for some reason, something hit me this morning.

I caught up with a precious friend this weekend. It was like an ordained conversation in the fabric isle of Hobby Lobby. (You never fail me Hobby Lobby. In more ways than one). I shared with her that I feel like I’ve been crawling. This valley is darker than I ever imagined it to be. I’ve become things I never thought I would be. This journey of divorce is lonely. Loneliness that one could never understand or relate to unless they’ve walked it. You don’t know where you belong anymore. And although you know you will belong again someday, right now, in this tunnel, you don’t have a place to belong. You’re just crawling, surviving, making mistakes and then experiencing little victories. But overall, it’s dark. And you wonder, how can God see me through this? He is light. I’m in the dark. I’m lost.

I’m trying to find my way, fighting off my flesh and moments of self-pity. Fighting off the anger of comments left and right from people who don’t have a clue what this is like. Pushing through the exhausting nights of single motherhood only to brush off the comments ringing in my ear – “You’re too nice to your kids,” “Really it takes you that long to get them to bed?” “They’re tramping all over you. Lay down the discipline. You won’t break them. Just do it.”  And then there’s fighting off the temptation to settle and miss my destiny, because really, nothing ever turns out how you planned, anyways? Right? What’s the point?

Maybe He’ll meet me at the end of this. He’s loving enough to meet me at the end of this tunnel, but for Him to dwell here? That’s impossible.

And then, it hits me.

He never would have said He is the “light in the darkness” if He didn’t plan to be WITH me IN the darkness. He may be the light at the end of the tunnel, but He’s also the light IN the tunnel. He’s watching me crawl, settle, succumb to my flesh, fail, come up for breath, come back down and then come up again. And He’s walking it all out BESIDE me, not ahead of me. He’s not so “great” that He’s above this darkness and every ugly moment, but His patience is great enough that He will stay IN it with me.

Just like He endured the darkness of the Cross…He could have come above it. Because of course, He’s greater and stronger. But He endured right in the center of the darkness. He endured the whole process. And He’s enduring MY whole process for the sake of what comes next, with no judgement and condemnation along the way.

“…for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:1-2

He knows what is set before me. So He’s enduring everything it’s taking to refine me and get me there. I can’t wait to “see the light” at the end of this season. But what’s so unexpected is that I also see it NEXT to me…even in the darkest of moments – places where you think He would cringe and disappear; places where His holiness wouldn’t fit. And yet, He’s there. And He’s not going anywhere. Talk about a lesson in GRACE.

Never What I Expect

It’s been quiet around here. I know. Well, let’s just say I’ve been distracted. Yes, distracted by a boy. Haha! What excitement, right?! But it feels different. Much more different than I expected dating to feel. Dating post-divorce is never what one would expect. Yes it’s fun. And it feels SO good to be wanted. SO good. It’s so different from the 10-year marriage that, in hindsight, seems to have been “forced” on my husband who never wanted to marry that young anyways. This time, someone wants me and no one and no standard is forcing him to. HE wants it. It’s no longer one-sided.

And yet, my mind is racing, searching for what is the right thing for me. That’s the last thing I thought would ever be on my mind when I was finally dating again. It’s supposed to be daily butterflies and daydreaming, right?
And yet, there’s doubts and fears that what I’m doing and who I’m kissing may be affecting my destiny. Does it fit with the perfect “comeback” story I had in my image-controlling mind? Is it the karma-cause of my slow going finances for the first time since my husband left me; the cause of my distance from friends who I feel might not approve of this imperfect guy yet makes me laugh and feel wanted? Is this a blessing or a curse? Is God punishing me for exploring this? Does He even want me to date? How do I even do this “adult dating” thing when all I hear in my head is my family’s hope for a rich man or my youth pastor’s spit-raging sermon ringing loudly in my head, “Don’t date! Don’t kiss! Don’t date! Don’t kiss!”

What do I do with this now? What does the church girl, worship leader, abandoned wife do with this? This is exhausting. Do I just give in to single life to avoid all the questions, fears, and imperfections?

For some reason, life for me has always had no meaning without a mate. And when I’m finally enjoying the company of someone who shows any remote desire for me, I’m starting to find, there’s more to me than a mate. There could possibly be meaning in just me alone. I’m not sure what it is yet, but it’s strange to think for the first time in my life that life as a single person isn’t exactly the hell I always judged it to be. And maybe dating is showing me that.

Do I miss the ex? Do I miss being a wife? Do I miss belonging to someone, watching the kids play outside of our “white picket fence” home while we waited for daddy to come home from work? Yes. Yes I do. But not as deeply as I did six months ago. I never thought I’d reach this point of contentment. And yet here I am. Open to singleness. Who am I?!!

Yes, I like dating. I like dating him. But the thought of “just me” isn’t quite as scary anymore. At least for now it isn’t. For several years maybe, until I know without a shadow of a doubt that who I’m dating will make me happy for the rest of my life. And no, not the ‘cliche happy’ that every little college girl dreams of before that cute boy finally gets down on one knee. The realistic happy – the happy that still carries love, joy and true commitment past the sad days, the ugly days and the “nothingness” days of life and marriage.

I can’t say that this fun dating thing has helped me find myself yet. As much as I thought it would, to be honest, I’m more lost than I’ve ever been. I don’t know where my life goes from here. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I actually don’t know where I belong. I was the church girl who was supposed to be married for a lifetime, singing on stage, loving on the members of her church community, guiding other young women who dreamed the same dreams I dreamed at one point in my life. But someone’s choice decided to turn that all around for me. And now, I have to find my new destiny -or perhaps the one God had for me all along. And I have a feeling it looks very different from what was in my head the first twenty years of my life.

Does that destiny include this guy who makes my heart flutter at the moment? I have no idea. All I know is, I don’t really ever know what my future looks like. And somehow, I’m having to let go of what I thought my dreams were and I have to open the door to what will actually be. Because in the end, I have no control. I never did. None.