Bitter Sweet

I don’t think my mom will ever get it. And I can’t say that I blame her. I never thought I would EVER get it either. In fact, I judged many divorcees for it. Didn’t have a clue how they could even go there. But now, it’s no longer a concept I bashed….it is my life.

It’s that place where you’re done with bitterness.

Perhaps the fact that the love of my life has walked into my life, filling up my tank with joy. Maybe there’s just no space for bitterness anymore when a human’s heart is so big that he walks into our messy life and only stirs up peace.

Maybe it’s the fact that carrying bitterness is much heavier and stressful than just letting go. Maybe the Sunday School teacher was right all along – forgiveness is for you, not for the offender. It’s pretty exhausting to think of the comebacks, the disagreements, the right cut of the eye anymore.

Maybe it’s my daughter’s face when she sees no disdain on my countenance as her father walks up to the door – a nine year old’s release; a nine year old’s confirmation that mom and dad weren’t a mistake. She wasn’t a mistake. And everything is going to be ok.

My conclusion: it’s all of the above and so much more.

This is where we are. Life is different. It looks entirely different than what today was “supposed” to look like in my pretty little handbook of ‘life plans’ ten years ago. It’s messier. Far from cookie cutter. But the imprints on our hearts carry much more eternal value than any picket fence ever could.

I can speak to him audibly. Look him in the eye [sometimes]. Watch him small talk with my new love and the future step father of our children and not shoo him away. I can have a conversation instead of cutting him off with a, “Just text me.” I can hear his voice and no longer miss him. I can open the door and show grace – the little bit of grace my human heart can show. Because in the end, what he did will never fall on me. Never will I condone it, yet never will I have the place to judge it. It is his mess. No longer mine.  And when the mess isn’t yours anymore, you do like any good daughter would do – you pass it on to Abba and you move on, with grace.

Goodbye bitterness. There is no space for you anymore.

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Release

The only way to describe yesterday is – sweet release.

I went to see my counselor yesterday and she opened this sweet door of release for me. I walked into her office with so many burdens. Worries over the emotional state of my daughter;  worries about what I would tell her when that eminent question comes, “Mommy, can boys kiss boys? What does gay mean? Is it ok?”

The funny thing is, we didn’t even touch on those things until after we touched on THIS…

From the moment my husband left me, I’ve been walking on egg shells, making sure that what I do [or don’t do] does not hinder any good that could possibly come next for me. (i.e., a good, faithful, godly husband and emotionally healthy kids).

You see, I’ve lived my whole life under the law. I was the rule follower; the goodie girl. It worked for me. It kept in line with this level of perfection I constantly tried to attain. It helped me keep control of what my life looked like from the outside in. It kept me “ministry worthy.” And now I see that it kept me far from the reality of GRACE.

So when the desire to meet someone would arise, I would suppress it. “I’m not allowed to feel this yet. It’s not in the rules. I’m supposed to suffer longer, endure this valley longer, learn what I need to learn in it and wait. I’m supposed to be that beautiful, pure redemption story. And to have that story, I must follow all the rules. Otherwise, God will give me a less than desirable husband and broken children. And then, I’ll just be another statistic.”

But my counselor reminded me that no one’s life is perfect. From the very beginning in the Garden, everyone’s story has a fall and a redemption. It’s just the way life is. It is the story of all creation. No one can really hold on to that “perfect plan A” for their family or their life. Without a fall, there’s no redemption. Not one person who has walked this earth has bypassed a fall. So who am I to think I could avoid mine? While it may not be in the form of divorce for everyone, there is always a fall, because without that fall, you would never recognize redemption in your life. Wow – what a release to know that when perfection fell in my life, it was only to open the door to sweet redemption – a life and husband that would gloriously surpass my perfect little box. It will gloriously surpass my “plan A.” Because in reality, as my pastor would say, “There really isn’t a plan B. God’s always had you on plan A. Your plan A may look like it failed, but in His eyes, you’re still right on track to where He’s been taking you – even with that little valley interruption.”

She asked me, “What would it take for you to release your husband? To release him from that anger and unforgiveness because he destroyed your “plan A” for your family?” I didn’t know how to answer that question. But all I knew was that the only moments that have given me (and even my daughter) a glimpse of release have been the moments when we’ve allowed our minds to picture what could come next;  better yet, who could come next. It is then that we find peace and joy. It is then that I can actually release my ex-husband and say, “I’m ok. I’m full. You might have ruined plan A, but boy does this new view look great. There is no room in my full heart for more bitterness towards you.”

To which she responds, “Then why do you think it’s against the rules to pray for that? Pray for it. Pray for his arrival. I give you PERMISSION to ask God for him. If it is there that you will find release; if it is there that you will release your ex-husband, then by all means ask for it. Rest assured, if it is in that place that you have found an inkling of freedom, I’m pretty sure God wants it for you. You don’t have to follow the “rule” that first you must find total healing, then comes the prize. You can have it now and you can find freedom in it.”

“Remember, Jesus didn’t live under the law. He changed the rules around all the time. It’s not about the rules. Every moment is about reminding us of His grace. His grace comes first. His plan comes first. And if it looks different than the ‘rules,’ it is still His plan.”

{sigh} release….

I was beginning to think that I was just a big mess of a woman. The 30-year-old woman who never quite lost her high school boy-crazy. But no, I’m just a woman who is wired to be a wife and my heavenly Father is very aware of this and working out His plan for me right now, regardless of what I do or don’t do. He will redeem this. His IS redeeming this and my husband IS coming. And I am allowed to visualize this, claim it and thank Him for it. I’m allowed to surround my kids with other blended families, where they see hope in redeemed marriages and families. Just this past weekend we attended a wedding so beautifully full of His redemption. My daughter was memorized at the story that was unfolding before her eyes! A new family was forming from the ashes of two broken homes. Two people so devoted to God’s direction were now experiencing their redemption. I’m allowed to show my children that cookie-cutter isn’t necessarily God’s plan for us, but oh how beautiful His plan will be!

{sigh} sweet release…

And then, I wonder: what is a Christian mommy to tell her daughter when she asks me about homosexuality? Where does grace come in here? How do I set aside “the law” in this moment and answer with grace? How do you tell them that we are to love everyone, even though what they are walking out might not have been a part of His original plan for them? Do I look her in the eye and give her the truest, honest answer that, “Yes. Daddy walked away and chose a man. It was not God’s plan for him, but it is what he chose and we still love him and so does Jesus.”  How do we love through this? We just do. We love. We know truth, but we love. We know what God feels about it. We know He is probably really sad about it. We know that He created marriage and said a man would leave his father and mother to be with his wife. We hold to this truth. Yet, we love. There goes His grace again. There goes my rule-breaking Jesus. We work around it and love anyways. We stick to His voice and in the end we are safe, in His arms and in the middle of His beautiful redeeming plan.

There is so much release in His grace.

And now, as one of my sweet friends suggested, I’m going to the store now…and I’m going to purposely walk in through the exit door. Because really, I’ve gotta break out of this ridiculous, perfectionist, law-abiding box I’m in. Haha!

Making Up

When I was married, one of the worst feelings in the world was not being on speaking terms when we were in a disagreement. It stopped me in my tracks and nothing was OK until we were back on good terms. Whether it was a day or a few hours, it was torture. Right now, divorce feels like that’s exactly where we are, except, we’re trapped in it forever. I’m on non-speaking-terms with my best friend in the world, but this time, it won’t go away.

Yesterday, we argued. (Via text, because of course, we still can’t come to terms with speaking audibly to each other unless it’s extremely necessary). It was over something so small. But I felt that horrible feeling. That feeling that I am not on speaking terms with my best friend. And this time, there’s no making up.

There’s no intimate makeup conversation. There’s no, “I’m sorry. Let’s move forward together.” There’s no makeup dinner. No makeup sex. There’s none of his funny jokes that always came at the perfect moment to lighten up the mood. He’s not here to cut the tension like he always did so smoothly; so humorously. There’s nothing. There’s silence. And I can never get him back. I’ll never see his smile again. I’ll never have that moment where we exhale and know that “we’re going to be OK.”

Because, we’ll never be “OK” again.

Sure, there’s “being civil.” Every co-parent gets there. But we’ll never go back to that love that reminded us why we started this journey together and won’t give it up.

I watch other couples go through the motions of every day married life and wonder if they realize what they have. I wonder if that wife realizes that although life doesn’t feel like a fairy tale, life still holds more “make-up” moments for her. Life still includes a man who made vows to her and isn’t going anywhere. He may not look at her every day the way he looked at her on her wedding day, but he’s there. His love may not ooze with romance like it did when they were dating, but it goes deeper now, because he’s STAYING. Even when life sucks all the romance out of him at times, he STAYS. They’ll celebrate their 10th anniversary. Maybe on a couch. Maybe at a coffee shop. Maybe on a beach somewhere exotic. But they’ll celebrate it. Because he stayed.

Sometimes I feel strong and ready to face what’s new. And other times, I just wish I could wake up from this never ending fight, and just make up.

No strings attached. No hurdles to cross to consider us a “normal” couple again in the eyes of our family and friends. (If there is such a thing as “normal.”) No walls. No barriers. Just making up and moving forward.

Never take for granted the option to make up.