Plenty of Fish

I just spent some time looking through a website for dating….Plenty of Fish.  I heard about it while having coffee with someone. I am laughing and horrified and so aware that I am feeling like a high school girl all over again….you know….the one who walks down the hallway carrying her books….carrying her dreams in her head….carrying her hurts in her heart…..wanting someone to see her but terrified of rejection. THAT girl!

I cannot believe we have come to this. We put up some pictures of ourselves….some look professionally done and others look like the person doesn’t know how to take a good picture……We write what we consider to be a witty opening….”Will You Be My Valentine? Are you Looking for Me? A Cutie with a Booty” (that one made me laugh out loud!

Then we fill out all the statistics about ourselves….5’8″ tall….brown eyes….desire a woman between 34-47…..looking for someone honest, caring, compassionate, and sexy!

Wow! I am reading through these and the fear is sky high! I see men that look absolutely crazy….others who look great but sound absolutely crazy…..some that look lost….a divorced, shy man who has young kids and admits that they are just getting by and things are tough because of the divorce….another that says he has a brain injury and is so lonely…..another who looks so arrogant…..and another that has posted close ups of his biceps and every picture shows off his chiseled physique.

My mind is spinning….I cannot make myself sign up. Online seems like an irrational place….a place where people go to pretend they are real people…a place where we go to look through shop windows and try to find someone in two dimensions when real people exist in three. How on earth could I click on someone’s profile and invite them to a cup of coffee? I would not sleep every night before the coffee. I would have to have my friends do a complete background check…fingerprints would be great, and then I would need three references and would need to find someone that I know that actually knows this person and their story! I would have to find someone from my area, and I would have to actually find someone who knows them first and could introduce us in person……perhaps dating sites need to be like LinkedIn….where you can see how you are connected to people…..then you could date within a real life realm….if everyone in your Facebook or LinkedIn or Pinterest…or Google circles who was single would show up…and it would tell you who you know that knows this person….then a dinner could be arranged…..a background check could be done….their story could be shared and there wouldn’t  be flipping out ……worrying that this stranger was not really who they claim to be!

How on earth could I trust someone to tell me the truth about who they are?

And that is the reality….I think online dating just sets it right up there in front of my eyes….on the screen….I am seeing my ex! I see him in every profile….

I remember sitting at lunch with someone who was telling me their story. She was telling me some very tough things about her ex-husband and she stopped a minute and looked at me….”But if you met him….you would think he was wonderful! You would think he was one of the nicest guys you had ever met!”

That stopped me in my tracks.

It made me think about people and their stories. How will I move into a place of trust? God this is scary! I know that for me…online dating can probably never happen….my story is of such a horrible online betrayal……I know for others online dating has led to wonderful marriages….my own dad found his wife online, and they are very happy. I have heard stories of lots of women who find  online dates and have met wonderful people.

I am the one broken…..and I can see that now. I just need to quit beating myself up over it and realize that for me….God will provide a different way because He knows my heart. He knows what I need.  I need to continue to live into “Try less and trust more!” So online dating is really no different in the end. Someone can deceive you in person as well as online. I am well aware of that!

There are plenty of fish in the sea….I am still trying to figure out how to trust just one of them someday.

Ghosts of Field Trips Past

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I am sitting in the ER, and it is past midnight…….

I have been working with fifth graders all week on a tour of their timeline. I am amazed that I am here….. 600 miles from home…. waiting in a lobby while a student gets checked out for any way they can help her get better to make a journey home tomorrow…..the tomorrow when I will fly home, attend a dance, dessert, and senior speeches for a girl of my own.. The tomorrow when I will then meet the bus again and check on all these students of mine and help them return to their families.

I am amazed because I still feel so small in these situations. I felt small last night when I realized my girl ran one of her best races ever, and I wasn’t there to see it. I feel small when a few of my students are not feeling well, and I cannot fix it and don’t know how to best advise their parents. I feel small as I sit here getting sleepy when I would rather be wakeful and alert and full of cheerful things to say. But in the end, I simply am a girl who is sleepy and beginning to feel the weight of a full day tomorrow on very little sleep today.

I feel the full weight of being single in these moments after listening to a mom call her husband when she feels overwhelmed by the weight and the worry of her decision to go to the ER 600 miles from home. Seeing her trust in his love for her and in his wisdom in that moment. Oh how I have always longed for a husband to trust…..someone I knew had my good as his heart’s desire…..someone to lean on when I feel weak and small. I feel the weight of being single and going home to an empty house that I have to fill…..to an empty place at a senior dinner when all the others will have a mom and a dad. God is surely preparing me for a strength I didn’t know was in me….. but while it develops, I still just feel like a small girl who wishes she had someone to hold hands with who could help her feel safe.

It is funny how much God provides though. I have a friend who cares for my girls better than I could even try to do….. another who unasked offered to pick me up at the airport. There is a beautiful friend who texted to tell me of my daughter’s track meet victory…. So many parents here on a trip that have encouraged and held me up as I lead this group…. a good man who is our tour guide who has delighted me with stories and gentlemanly treatment all week. There is the sweet ER attendant who helped me get wipes to clean up the cab as we came in with a sick one……and who got me the number for the cab company in order to return to the hotel. There was the lovely lady, the hotel clerk, who dialed the cab for us so I wouldn’t have to fiddle with addresses and such….the sweet nurse who checked us in and so patiently handled all the paperwork. There is the manager of the restaurant who desired to do such a wonderful job with our group, and the chef who came out just to see if we liked his meal. The week has been filled to the brim with lovely people.
I will have been provided for in every possible way…..as my Heavenly Father cares for me….. making sure there is a rental car and a ride to the airport so I don’t have to stress about driving in a strange city or navigate an airport alone. The little details were planned by careful hands and hearts. I have the best two teammates who can handle the bus ride home and make it so easy for me to leave. My heart can rest.

My singleness may be felt……but I rest knowing that it is not all up to me anymore. I have turned it all over to the only One big enough to orchestrate so much good from moments and hours and days and years like these. So I will hang on to His word for me in Romans 8:28……And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

And I do!

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Opinions Can Hurt Real People

I ran across an old blog tonight about……the day of his arrest. It was a particularly painful one by a woman named Ericka Courtney.  I didn’t expect to run across it on the web. Some days are just like that….there will be little reminders and little stabs again at my heart. I hadn’t remembered how painfully personal this one felt. It was as if this particular blogger had no heart. She had no notion that the people in the news story were real…..flesh and blood….feeling persons with lives and hearts and feelings and just trudging along trying to do the best that they could with the people and events swirling around them.

I read a different blog this morning by Brene Brown.

I love listening to her heart….her vulnerability.

I loved the lesson she learned about being judgmental of others……and thinking she was always in the right…on the moral high ground. It came none too soon.

 I recall reading Ericka’s blog so many years ago….thinking I was in the right….I was thinking this woman was just plain mean and awful and how dare she say these untrue, unkind, heart wrenching things when she didn’t know the first thing about my story….this story….my life…..the life I was being dragged through, into, under with, being broadsided by and learning about daily.

I remember the first time I read the blog….it was only days after the arrest…..it hurt so badly that I cried for hours. The thought that a complete stranger would have such hateful things to say….that she would talk about the man who was my husband in such terms and say she would help him sin against his god…..(her little g stung as well). All of it…the comments by others and the way they could simply toss about banter and witty jokes and slams as if the real people they were talking about didn’t really matter and weren’t really hurting. I had never experienced anything quite so…..so….humiliating and dehumanizing in my entire life. I had no idea why this woman felt the need to hurt me further. I had no way to process why the people commenting…..… why they couldn’t see my pain.

But today….after running across this blog again and after hearing Brene……I think I see. They were all doing the best they could. I was doing the best I could. She couldn’t offer more grace because in her story….there was none to give. She had no notion of the fact that my heart was aching for my children. She had no way of knowing that my heart was bleeding knowing that someday my girls might read this blog and fall apart or cry or have their hearts stung and broken to bits because of her words. She had no way to know how much her flippant offer to have sex with him made my sadness multiply and made my heart panic and fall to pieces. She couldn’t see, as a woman who loved me might have, how very painful those words were to me. In her world, she was simply telling off a jerk and giving him his rightful due. She didn’t care or couldn’t see how absolutely painful her actions were to me….the woman already lying broken in the path of destruction.

I see that now.

I see that perhaps her story was one that didn’t have room to see….or a desire to see.

I will never know her story, and she will likely never know mine. But I am still grappling with her words. They still have the power to hurt even four years later. ….certainly not to the same degree…..but her intentions…..are still felt even now. Even now…..I don’t want my children to be harmed through others by the story their father left them ….they have been harmed enough. They don’t need strangers adding to the weight of their destruction.

But I am not angry with others in the same way anymore.

I can feel the pain and then try to see those others in a way that allows me to assume the best. I can assume she didn’t want to hurt me and would have made better choices if she had known how much her words would cut my heart. It doesn’t even matter if I am right. It still allows me to love her and desire the best for her. Even while I can set a boundary that says giving opinions without knowing any of the facts can be very hurtful, and I will try to avoid it at all costs knowing how much it hurts. And….I will not let the opinions of others wreck my world any longer….especially the opinions of strangers who don’t even know me.

Today, I simply choose to believe that she is and was doing the best that she could……

 So thank you Brene!

Thank you for vulnerably sharing your story…….and the words of wisdom from your husband and your counselor. They are changing my life.

Me and yet, Not Me!

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I am not who you think I am.

I am not even who I think I am.

This horrifies me and is fascinating all at the same time. I can look at myself and not know who I am and often don’t see myself clearly.

I interpolate….I confabulate…..I hide from my shame and even dodge my own sin.

I say things I later regret. I can say unkind things just as easily as I comfort. I can be ungracious and desire to compare and can find people wanting in the balance that keep in the dark corners in my head. I can see people’s greatness and potential and also their shortcomings.

I often cannot see my own.

 I often like to pretend I really don’t have any.

Not until I have said something that horrifies me do I see my sin. I think I am right most of the time. I think I am better or kinder or more generous than I really am. I find that when I have to confront the real me….the one under the layers of make-believe and under the layers  of my shiny mask…..I am simply a sinner…..capable of being a small, unkind, gossipy, ornery, unthinking, selfish, self-centered, lazy, undisciplined, self-righteous, lying cheat!

 And I do not like looking at myself in those moments.

There is something  in me that fights seeing myself clearly at times. I would prefer to go on in the fantasy story that would keep me forever trapped in a lie that says I can be perfect……………………………… ……………………………………………………….in my own strength.

It is tiring….having to be perfect in my own strength. I find that trusting…….trusting that even sinners like me can be forgiven and receive grace and learn to give mercy and grace without moving into pride…is exhausting to me some days. I find that seeing imperfections in others often scares me…..I desire to run away and hide when I see someone else’s shortcomings. I think this is true because I worry that if I am seeing their shortcomings…..perhaps they may some day see mine. And then I know exactly what would happen…….I would be abandoned and hated and seen for the worthless person that I really am.

Perhaps I am afraid to wrestle with this in others precisely because I won’t wrestle with it in myself honestly yet. I prefer to think someone could see perfection when looking at me…..even though when I look at them, I will have to accept their perfections as well as their imperfections. I have to be able to walk along with sinners and call them to glory yet give mercy when they stumble. I must have patience for the foibles of others…..allow that their faults are real and really are not who they are all at the same time. I have to be fearless in seeing sin….and even more fearless in forgiving it and calling someone to face it…..even when that someone is me.

I think I actually get so prideful that when I see smallness and unkindness inside me…..I panic and wonder if I am simply so prideful that I cannot see the HUGE EVIL mess that I really am.

God….how do you stand us? How do you offer such kindness and forgiveness over and over and over….even when we don’t see our sin….You do and yet You don’t smite us. You don’t just not smite us, You gently love us and lead us forward until such time that we can face ourselves and turn from sin to more life….more love…..and more grace.

I am returning to school tomorrow to face a room of sinners. I will pray for their hearts. I will try to shepherd them in academics as well as in their very souls. I already know I am a failure at perfection. I will face them knowing that I can say words that are difficult to follow and …..they are no less true for them than me. I will try to walk with them…..try to show them how I see their greatness…..and I will try to gently call them to holiness when they mess up.

God show me how to extend the same grace to myself. How do I see what You have created here without being prideful….without being false….without being full of shame or blame or holding on to notions of perfection? Lord….teach me to be thankful for all of it…..the mess and the beauty…..the pain and the pleasure…..the sin and the glory. Help me to strive to become more like You even as I see more and more the ways in which I am not!

The Ugly Truth

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Today I had to deal with a lot of anger. It has stolen upon me in the midst of a very lovely week. Amid birthdays and faculty training and preparations for college…..my heart grieves and feels anger for the betrayal that stole all of the beauty from our world.

The ugly truth is that he never has to look back and have pictures in his head of me being intimate with another. He never has to struggle with images of me being held and touched and with and enjoying another .….someone other than him when we were married. He never has to feel the sick feeling in the pit of his stomach wondering if the next spouse will leave images such as those in his soul. He never has to look back and remember sickening thoughts like “I wonder who he would rather be kissing”…..or “I wonder who he would rather be with right now?” or, “I wonder how many or who he was with on which important day of my life.”

I am at the point in the year when going back to school triggers a whole lot of pain. It is a heart-sick feeling when you run across your old address…..it stares at you…..and the memories come flooding back.

The phone call to him when the dog was run over by a car, and the way he held you close to help you stop crying.

The bonfires in the front yard to celebrate a girl’s birthday and the long talks out under those stars.

The gardening together…

The swimming as a family….

The barbecue dinners on the pool deck….

The movies on the couch….

The confrontation in the driveway over an affair….. his back as he walked away to decide if he would stay or leave with her…..

The horrible sick feeling as the doorbell rang, and the police stepped into your home……

The night I had his passwords and read all the darkness my soul could ever withstand…..

The lovely porch….the butterflies….the rocking chairs…..the flowers and red maples and hummingbirds, and owls and hawks and walks and teaching my girls to drive and youth group nights and marks measuring each girl’s height on the kitchen door frame and the floors we installed, the meals and Christmases and Easter egg hunts and……….. a seemingly endless flood of memories…..

They all crowd in and fill me with a sadness so deep and so painful….there are no words…….only pain and anguish and anger.

No one can understand who has not walked this road…..you cannot understand how much rage and anger the violation of the vow….the ugly images of your beloved with another and another and another and another…..create inside your body, mind, and heart.

I had to grab a baseball bat and just pound the bed……I had to cry and bawl and wail and just release it…..it had to come out or it would rip my soul. There is nothing like this….

And God comes and tenderly reminds me….that He has felt this too. His beloved is constantly loving another and another and another….His love is that deep for me. He loves me like that.

I am humbled, and the storm is passing.

I can feel that another wave will come ……who knows when. But waves I can take…..I am thankful He doesn’t allow me to try to withstand the entire betrayal in one horrible moment….one completely horrific tsunami of pain. Instead….I can grow stronger and then stand against another wave….time and again…..until one day…..these tiny trickles will simply remind me of all that I have learned and all that I have come to understand more deeply about God’s love for me.

God, tonight was difficult. Thank you for baseball bats, soft beds, empty condos, and words that can express the deepest places of my soul. Thank you, Father, that even here in this broken and desolate place, you whisper to me…..You love me….You are here even in this.

Anatomy of a Trigger

The Anatomy of a Trigger

2016-04-23 08.59.28It is a sunny beautiful day today.

I have had a wonderful couple of weeks. I have been on a trip to a state park that I have never before seen. It was a day filled with a picnic, a swim in some cool refreshing water, and then later, a trip to see a movie. Then another night I had a dinner….  cooked for me….a lovely gourmet dinner complete with free range quail and homegrown green beans. It even ended up being a night in which a disaster turned into a fun adventure working to make something beautiful. Then a night with pizza and one of my favorite older movies, The Quiz Show, was a relaxing ending to my summer.

Hardly seems like the makings of a huge triggering mess, does it?

Well….just allowing myself to enjoy any of those evenings takes monumental effort emotionally. I can get excited in the planning…..I can have fun in the moment….but somewhere….in the back of my heart and mind….there is a dark thought lurking…..all of this could be a sham. All of this could be the out workings of someone’s secret sin and darkness. I could be one moment away from disaster.

I know where the thought originates. I know why I feel it. I know that it is not truth. It is neither completely logical nor completely illogical. I just give myself permission to think it and feel it and then try to walk through the realities of those moments and see with my intuition and my heart as well as with the guidance of other women and men who are my community.

Those aren’t even the trigger moments….they are simply the moments that lead up to trigger moments.

Somewhere in all that fun….in all that doubt mixed with fear…..I will begin to feel “out of touch.” I am never quite sure if it is my intuition in over drive….or if I am seeing so clearly that I should run. I am not sure if what I feel is a red flag moment that should alert me to trouble or a mirage in the desert of my trauma filled psyche that if looked at by a saner person would seem nonsensical. But somewhere in those “out of touch” moments, I begin to narrate a story to myself. I begin to hear the story of how the person I am trying to connect with really isn’t desiring to connect with me or isn’t capable or open to connection. I begin to feel the feelings from my long empty marriage or feel the hurts from those moments when I most felt the abandonment and sting of betrayal.

Then as those feelings begin to build….either an opportunity to connect will come and a conversation will be had that draws my heart back to feeling close and sane and right and calm and safe…..

Or….

Something will happen that totally triggers me, and I will cry, and fear will steal over me like a mouse experiencing that shadow of a bird of prey moments before the snatch and quick death take place.

Tonight it was a text.

I simply was feeling playful or feeling a longing to talk and connect…..so I sent a text….saying that I was thinking of this person.

And in reply……..

………nothing.

Silence can be a deadly trigger. I am a GREAT interpolator. Have I told you that before? I can interpolate with the best of them! Really….I think I had a whole story worked out in my head before I could count to ten.

It may be that I am spot on. Perhaps this person was wrapped up in something and couldn’t even find time to look at their phone. My story went on to find that this person most likely was angry at me anyway…..for some perceived slight that I had unintentionally given. Then I went further into despair…..most likely this person was out talking to other friends and having a great time and didn’t answer because they now thought those friends were more interesting and more desirable than I ever would be. Perhaps the silence was a way of telling me that they didn’t wish to ever see or spend time with me again. Perhaps they had been feeling this way for a while, and it just now came to a head. Perhaps all my faults were too much and their life was much too interesting to them, and they had just now decided that instead of wanting to spend time in a friendship getting to know me….they wanted something much different and much more exciting.

Suddenly waves of worthlessness pour out….heap up….rain down like a giant tsunami wave upon my heart. I am standing outside walking the grand-dog and looking up at the sky with eyes filled with stinging tears.

How can I be so dumb? How could I ever trust anyone again? What was I thinking? Of course this person would find me worthless. Of course this person would figure out that I was uninteresting and unable to keep anyone feeling anything close to more than mild interest.

Triggers and moments like these drive me crazy. I am a thinking woman. I am someone who doesn’t like drama. I like steady, calm emotions. But these moments….they take away my joy and ability to feel secure. I either confront the person….creating drama and heartache and misunderstandings that possibly kill all relationship…..or bring us closer than ever. Or I sit quietly suffering….quietly thinking up ways to either cover up my feelings….cover up my hurt and misunderstanding…..or think of ways to lash out or take my feelings out in another way.

What a sickening feeling triggers and moments like these are.

I have decided tonight to simply go to sleep.

My heart is hurt….most likely for no reason other than I am not healed all the way yet….I am simply too sensitive….or I am completely seeing everything so clearly, and  I don’t want to face it yet again.

So off to bed me and my heart will go…..triggers and all…..unless of course I just send another text asking if I have said something wrong……..

Remembrances

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Some days I worry that I am never going to be vulnerable or real or able to love again. I have long stretches of feeling better….feeling stronger….feeling….with a heart that feels wide open. Then there will come a day…..after a bit of normal….after a bit of mundane. That day will crash upon me like a storm that sneaks in on the side of the house you aren’t watching. There is sunshine and cloudless sky where  you are looking and then from somewhere just over the rise of the roof….where you cannot see, you will hear the thunder and very quickly the sun will be blotted out and the sky will be filled with wild wind and pelting rain.

Today is like that. I have had a good summer. I was strong and let my heart be known. I had adventures in another state and at the beach. I got lots of school work done and rested some by the pool too. I had fun days spending time with family and friends…….but here tonight….suddenly after a week of just really fun things…..

……my heart is breaking. I am suddenly crying again and I don’t know why.

I think it has to do with the start of school. It is not the children I will teach….they are a glorious adventure.

It is not the new classroom I am moving into. I have been in this room before and I like it fine. I remember that a colleague used to be on the other side…..she taught kindergarten and I LOVED just popping my head in and talking to her a little at the end of some of the days.

 It is not the loss of summer…..I will get another, and I am ready for the routines of school to resume….

No…this is deeper. I am grieving something, and I think it is the familiar room I pass every time I walk down the upper school hallway. It is the knowing that soon we will have chapels again….and faculty meetings again……and things that I used to share with a trusted friend.  I think seeing my high school friends triggered a deep, deep longing for fellowship again. I miss being with someone who knew me when….who could talk with me about then….who could hold my hand and know just how to write I love you with his finger tips on my palm. I miss the rocking chairs on the porch and talking about our grandchildren. I miss just being comfortable …… I don’t miss any of the uncomfortable or the person I became in that manipulative, dark, twisted environment……but I do miss the person he was supposed to be. I miss the man I thought he was. And that is the most difficult thing sometimes…..

………..there was a man I thought I married…..and I was wrong……………. Only a few people know just HOW wrong I was. Only a handful know the depth of the pain….the depth of the mistake….how utterly broken the picture of that man is in my heart now.

But I still miss what I thought I had.

Remembering now makes me cry……still….four years later. I miss someone who, in the end, wasn’t even real…..and that scares me.

Only someone who has walked through a marriage with someone who was hiding their true intentions and true self will ever know what I am talking about……I am completely horrified and completely devastated….but I miss something that was not real.

So I sit here and cry….and wish I could instantly feel as comfortable with another…..but that is a pipe dream. I have to go through the hard work of relationships….this time with eyes wide open….getting to know a real man…..not a man hiding in shame.

Fear comes in when I think that I could possibly not see clearly again. But then I breathe and remember that this time….I have a community…a body of believers….walking alongside me…..holding my heart and helping me see.

So tonight I will cry….because I lost something precious…..something I loved……someone I cared deeply about….and thought I was spending the rest of my life with…..I was wounded by someone so close that the wound was able to break my heart completely in half…..

But I am also so much stronger that I am able to love that broken person and move on with a life richer and deeper and more vulnerable than I was ever able to have in that marriage and life. How is it that God is such a marvelous craftsman? He can take shards and broken pieces and mend them into a work of art so stunning that you cannot even remember the original without being awed and overwhelmed by the beauty of all His works.

Come Lord Jesus and make me ….fashion me….into one of Your works of art……to do Your will joyously…..and endlessly!

The Dog Ate My Homework!

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This trusting and being brave feels very, very difficult. In fact….it feels so difficult that I want to run and hide and never speak up or have a voice again. I will not lie……this is probably the area where I need the most work. And funny enough…..God is a great teacher and not shy at all about giving me homework.

I am terrified…..I am staring at vulnerability and realizing that I may have a real battle going on in my heart.

My friends say, ” SHOW UP….move out of strength …..not fear.

You have to tell him your feelings and put yourself out there or you stuff it and return to your old life.

You have to be real and not fear the future.”

I am getting the picture that I am not brave….I am not brave and willing to tell someone when they hurt me or when my emotions are sadness or fear or confusion or unhappiness……… or any other negative emotion I can think up.

I can be so positive….it is positively scary!

I have no problem expressing joy and excitement and interest and happiness and wonder and…you name it, and I can tell you how I feel there.

I can be a good listener and hear your story…feel your feelings….walk alongside…..enter into your world….

I just don’t know if I can open up and allow anyone to enter into mine.

I know I desire it. I know it is what my heart longs for….known….safe….loved.

I can articulate it. I can intellectually see it. I can write about it……. but put me across the table from someone who is interesting to me…..with whom I would desire a connection ….and suddenly……I am unable. I will cry later when I am alone. I will think it through later when I can process….but in the moment…..I am frozen by fear.

This is NOT…..I repeat NOT….a fun or healthy feeling!

I need someone who can draw it out of me. I need someone safe who sees my heart buried beneath this weight of fear. I need someone who is strong enough to come into chaos and make sense of this. I need someone who is patient and able to help me articulate when my brain only thinks “RUN!!!!!”

There is a part of me that really believes this is impossible. I truly feel like this is too much….I am too much. I truly hear the voice inside my head that would tell me……I am never going to find someone who is desiring this story in a partner….able to withstand the emotions that will pour out if I release them.

So I call a friend…..and we talk. She tells me about a time when she was just making dinner….and her husband said he would be home in an hour. Two hours roll by and he is not home. Out of the blue….her heart is triggered and she is worrying…irrationally yes….but in moments like these….the memory is stronger than your rational mind. So she called and tried to sound like she was only wondering where he was.

She told me he thought she was irritated and so he reminded her of how important the work he was doing to finish up before a vacation was and then went back to work.

It wasn’t until later that his irritation at her call came out and she had to face her real emotions with him present.  She had to chose to be honest and vulnerable with him. She cried and opened up and confessed what had been going on…..and he stepped in and tenderly walked with her into that mess. He allowed her to feel her feelings and then was able to allay them and help her process through them in a way that brought them closer as a couple instead of further apart and angry with one another. The wall was slowly getting dismantled instead of being built anew.

I love when my friend shares stories with me….and I can see that it is possible not only to find a man who will care but also that it is possible to be triggered and act irrationally and still be tenderly taken care of in that place. She wasn’t made fun of or told to “just get over it.” She was taken in and made whole again in the broken place because her husband saw her and knew her heart and loved her there.

I am finally healed enough that I don’t worry about or mind being alone….I am being vulnerable in my relationships with friends and………now I feel God moving me into much more difficult work.

Is it possible to tell God that the dog ate my homework or that I don’t think it is fair that we have to have homework when we go to school all day?

Some Healing Comes in Relationship

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I have been reading a lot of books again this summer. Boundaries in Dating and Rising Strong are giving me excellent tools for moving forward. Phone calls with friends are reminding me again and again…..some of my healing will come in relationship. I have to actually move into relationship to work out some of these fears. And I am finding it is true. I have learned so much already by just dating casually and walking forward tentatively reaching out and vulnerably putting my heart out there.

Sometimes….the response is scary….once I got a text from a man I went to coffee with. He was angry at me. He wrote me on Match to let me know that I was awful and unchristian for needing time to think over if going to dinner would be an option. He thought I was not contacting him because I didn’t like his looks. He told me I was never going to find someone if my heart wasn’t ready to immediately get into a relationship at coffee….I had no business going to coffee if I wasn’t ready to go further. He told me I had to take his email to my pastor and ask a person in authority to tell me how wrong I was. He was manipulative, and I had no problem writing him and telling him I enjoyed the coffee but under no circumstances would I date a man that was so manipulative.  I told him that I always take time to think things over….regardless of how the coffee went….I usually need to process and make sure I was seeing correctly. The funny thing is….I did enjoy talking to him….I just didn’t feel we were a match. There was nothing too glaring….just little bits and pieces of a life that wouldn’t mesh well with mine. He took it as a sign that I was too materialistic and unchristian. He berated me and said I must not have liked his clothes or his posture or that he wasn’t handsome enough. At least I am finally at the point now that I can sincerely say that those are his issues and not my heart. He has some areas to work on.

I have gone to coffee with gentlemen who have asked me to reconsider after I have told them that I didn’t desire to go to dinner with them. They sincerely try to sell me on their good points and one time, it worked. I decided dinner would be fun and another opportunity for learning more.

I have had gentlemen accept graciously the fact that we were not a match…..and I have had coffee with some men who have never contacted me again.

I have had a coffee that made my heart go pitter patter, and I have had a coffee that made my heart sad for the broken place that someone’s heart was in. Coffee has been a wonderful way to get to know just a little of someone and to see if walking further makes sense.

Coffee is no longer difficult.

 It is the next step that I am terrified of now. It is the place you find yourself after dinner….after two dinners…multiple dinners…..that place is much more vulnerable! That place is more difficult because you will come up against a real person….with real emotions….and real sin…..and real places of disagreement.

It is these places…..places where I cannot be just kind…..just agreeable…..just a girl without boundaries…. that place will take the most practice. I will have to step out in faith and voice my opinions and my needs…..in ways that are feminine and definitive. I will have to be brave and strong and courageous and vulnerable. I will have to risk ending something and losing someone and abandonment and heartache……

And this is what is terrifying after having walked through my story.

So I am gathering my courage and walking forward. I am not going to give in to fear. I will move out of strength and trust more as I try less. I will not try to figure everything out so I feel safe, and I will not be afraid to tell someone what works for me and what doesn’t. I am writing all this down so that I can reread it every day and remember when it feels overwhelming that I have resolved to be brave, and I don’t’ have to make myself safe. I will simply  walk forward being open and vulnerable, and God will show me if a relationship is not good for me …..or if a relationship is growing into something more.

 

Just Enjoy?

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When you have a good friend….she will tell you things straight up. I trust this particular woman with my life….and she is beautiful and authentically helping me heal. As we sit and talk around the breakfast table eating our quail eggs, fruit and toast…..she tells me her prayer is that I will let go and start to enjoy.

 Joy?

Are you kidding me? I can let go of the wondering and the thinking and the planning and the needing all the answers?

I can walk forward just experiencing someone or something and not have to filter it through a lense of pain and secrets and darkness?

That struck me.

I have been walking through a very dark time….a very painful time….a very secret revealing time…..and I am on hyper vigilance    all the time!

If someone says something that triggers anything from my former life…..I want to bolt! I want to run as fast as I can in the other direction. I will cry. I will tremble. And most importantly….I will try to fix my world so that I will NEVER feel that pain again.

This is NO way to live. It is  only a way to ensure that NO joy can reach your heart.

I have had to have prayer….mountains of prayers have been prayed for me……to help me begin to walk out of the rubble.

But JOY?

I am allowed to have someone cook a dinner for me and simply ENJOY it? I can visit a beach and simply enjoy? I can read a book, teach a class, talk to someone, or even….gulp…..go on a date…… and feel  JOY?

I don’t have to ask and know and see EVERYTHING that might happen or might be true before simply enjoying?

My friend’s words have made me lighter today. I can sit here and look ahead into my year….into my new beginning….a new classroom….a new set of students….a new year with a girl going to a new college….a new dynamic with only one at home and all new adventures with her….a new relationship with myself.

But JOY?

I can allow all these new things into my life and not panic? I can allow new people and new experiences into my world and not have to have all the answers today in order to enjoy them?

Holy CRAP! What a concept!

After wading through so much darkness…….I have begun to lose the ability to simply enjoy. I have lost the ability to be light-hearted and open and carefree.

To be told that I am allowed to live in the moment and simply enjoy an evening with someone is………too easy! I have walked around carrying the weight of my world on my shoulders…..trying to figure it all out. I know….I KNOW…I can hear myself…..

Of course I cannot figure it out…..God has always prepared me and taken care of me. If He has something for me to do…..He will make the way and see it through.

I see that now. I know it. But actually living into trusting is one of the most difficult things I try to do.

So tonight…..I am going to enjoy a quail dinner. I won’t feel the need to think through the next twenty years……to make myself safe….or to see into someone’s soul. I am going to simply enjoy…the taste of a meal I have never eaten…..the fact that someone else is doing the cooking…..some good conversations…..perhaps ask a few good questions…..and enjoy pulling off a surprise for my girls before school starts. I am going to trust more and try less.  I can enjoy an evening and NOT have to know the ending of my story before it even gets started!

I can simply enjoy!

What a simple prayer for me today.

God thank you for the opportunity to enjoy what you have provided today. Help me enjoy all the gifts You have given me.  Thank you for a friend who helps me see that a light heart is a gift from You!

I Remember

 

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I am finding that I feel different lately. I am walking through the usual….June and July…….the mess…the remembering….the honoring of all that was so painful that day, that week, that month….that year….and the years that followed…….but I am different now.

I can feel it all and grieve it still.

I can talk with my daughter about that day….the one who walked through it with me…in her tender years….having to recall all the ugly, shameful, fearful moments in that day. We still can feel them as if they were yesterday. The call…..the voice….the stranger from the bail bonds office……..the napkin where I wrote the awful truth that was conveyed on the phone…..the feeling of tumbling down a long hole and wishing the world could somehow right itself again.

But no longer do these feelings drag me to despair. I can look back now and see….really see…the sin and the darkness….the selfishness and the ugliness…..

But I do not fall apart here. I do not long for a restoration here. I do not regret my actions on any of those days. I am able to look back and see the good that God was already working….that He was already planning….

And now…. four years later…..I can rejoice in the healing that is manifesting itself even now.

I am no longer a scared and rejected…..abandoned and betrayed wife.

I am a stronger and more capable mother…….a loving teacher…..a leader….and a woman on the edge of a life so filled with wonder and glory that I hardly know which way God will have me grow……. into more…into much more….in the coming years.

I have battled through fears and doubts and loneliness.

I have come to see myself a little more clearly and a little more gracefully.

I have traveled and served and planned and executed plans……..and I have found a joy that is beyond my wildest imaginations some days.

I sit across from strangers and they become friends. I sit beside men and women I hardly know and invite them into my heart quite easily now. I open my heart and arms to any and all at times and have a much richer life for it.

I cannot help but look back and feel the weight of the twenty-five years I lived. I see their agony and their glory. I have such wonderful memories and such painful ones….all wrapped together and inseparable because of the nature of marriage.

I walk forward the same and yet more….I got to take much more away from this than just grief. I can almost….at times….rejoice in it. I was saved from a fate worse than death…..I was plucked from a marriage that was empty and lost……I was released from a vow that had lost all meaning and instead was eating out my heart. I was rescued by Love…..a love so relentless and powerful that it had the ability to shake me to my core….when I most desperately needed shaken to my core. I was wooed by the creator of the universe because He loves me.

I know it……I have always known it. I am beloved…….

And today is no different. Four years ago….I learned that a man gave up my heart for an empty promise of fulfillment. A man decided for years that our world was not enough and walked away hoping to find more….

But today….I am more….I am loved more than I ever knew….and have been shown a love that is deeper and wider than even a nuclear blast zone created by one man’s sin. I have been pulled into the heart of a God so loving and tender that even a betrayal of everything I hoped for cannot dampen it. I have been wooed by a God so intimate and vulnerable that He allows my sin to be felt and then released by His own actions……He takes my punishment and in its place…..gives me life and love abundantly more than I deserve.

It makes absolutely no sense….but in the end….this day was meant to crush my spirit…..break my heart….and remove me from love…….

Instead this day has crushed all doubt…….broken open my heart……..and removed from me a wall of separation that kept me from fellowship and deeper relationships. What the enemy desired for evil….my God uses and will continue to use for good….because

He loves me!

 

a life in process, beauty all around us, and finding our place in the world