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I was divorced exactly one year ago today. It was a simple proceeding…..I really was in shock at how God wooed my heart that day. Everyone in the courtroom seemed to me to extend an extra measure of kindness and concern for my heart….the guard who opened the door and pulled out my chair like such a gentleman both at the start and finish of the proceedings…the judge who asked me no questions except to state my name and who looked at me so kindly and told me I was done…. with such concern in his eyes for my children…….and the friend who was with me…walking me through such a difficult day. There are days when I still cannot even remember how I got to this point in my life…..where did the tapestry unravel and how was it that I didn’t see the tear before the whole thing unravelled? But God has walked with me every step of the way and has shown me that He is not willing that my heart hide and be overlooked. I feel like the one sheep that he left the 99 for….I feel like I am in some ways more than I was… some small way, I have been brought low in order to be strengthened and shown the depth and breadth of His love. So today….I remember……..and I am preparing to start a new file!

I just picked up my divorce file from my lawyer. The case has been closed since last year and she wrote me and asked me to come and pick it up. It was an unceremonious proceeding. The divorce was simple. The only complicating matter was that my husband was in prison at the time. Some things had to be routed to a police officer up in the area who would deliver the materials to get signed and then bring them back out of the prison. The only complicating matter on my end was the cost and the heartbreak.

My life with him now sits before me in a brown expanding file. There are four sections. Each one has different information about my marriage and my life stored in them. Each one is a reminder that nothing went according to plan. There is a file for the original workup, one for the bankruptcy case, one for the mandatory disclosures and then a final one for the pleadings.

I feel like they are a metaphor for my own journey.

The original work up was the wedding and my life before June 15, 2012. It should be full to the brim with details about birthdays and Christmases. There should be a whole sheet in there on the birth of each baby and the adventures we had moving so many times when the kids were young. A page on Seminary, long walks, and holding hands would fit in here. There could be a section on the visiting of relatives and the friends we shared and kept in contact with from high school.  The school where we taught, the church we attended, the lives of our girls, and vacations would all have a page. And it might be mentioned in there somewhere that we rarely fought. We were friends and enjoyed talking to one another.  All the good and wonderful things about our marriage would go in here. All the love, joy, and happiness that filled those years carefully and lovingly written all over the pages of this file.

The bankruptcy case would be full of all the times I felt unprotected. When he left his teaching job unexpectedly after his first year, that was the start of eight jobs in twenty-four years. The disengagement and the yearning for a different life that was expressed so regularly are slipped in on a scribbled note on the bottom of the file. The abandonment I felt, and my inability to express my feelings and thoughts all get to go in here. All the times I was told I wasn’t enough, or that I was holding him back fit in this file. The moments of loneliness and the slipping into an addiction that slowly happens over time all crowd this file. This is a terrible file. All the notes are red or black. They are written with heartache and unresolved anguish. I feel like the bankruptcy file was never-ending.

The mandatory disclosure is the file that contains the story of what really happened. It is where I found out about the addiction. I found out about the shadow. The ugliness of what I discovered fills the whole file! Disclosures are mandatory….but they hurt. Even my own disclosures are mandatory. They go in this file too. It is full of the moments when I failed and the moments when I was small and unkind. The story of my life is in the disclosures.

The final file is the pleadings.

What exactly are pleadings? The dictionary entry was surprisingly accurate here. The sentence they chose was poetic.

  1. the action of making an emotional or earnest appeal to someone.
    “he ignored her pleading”
  2. LAW
    a formal statement of the cause of an action or defense

I filled this one with my tears. I pleaded quite a bit. I know I didn’t always say what I should have, but I did have pleadings. I didn’t have the boundaries I should have, but I did make earnest appeals for what was right and good and beautiful. I am allowing this file to be the formal statement of the cause of my actions. My earnest appeals are done. My time of grieving is continuing. My understanding of the reasons I walked away are clear. I am done pleading. I am instead going to choose. I choose to walk forward, and I choose to see clearly. Pleadings won’t help. I am finding that only facing things squarely and speaking truth help.

As I carried my prize back to the car that day, I passed a man and his two children. His little boy and he were out walking with the cutest little girl. I stood watching  this lovely scene. Her guide stick got stuck and her father was patiently guiding her and teaching her how to see in this new way. She was smiling and bouncing along tapping her stick out in front of her. She was just a seven-year old girl out on a walk………..walking blind and trusting completely.

As I got in the car, the grey rain falling down was mirroring the tears falling inside the car. I realized that I longed to be blind. I wanted to be blind to this ugly mess. I didn’t want to be left holding this particular file. I wanted to believe again that someone could love me faithfully. I wanted to believe that someone IS who they say they are, and can be trusted to tell the truth. I wanted to skip along confidently knowing that someone knows me and guards my heart. But I am not blind. I am not innocent anymore. I have a file full of memories.  I would like to burn this file and start a new one some days, but I know that I love too much in the files to get rid of it. Files like these are an all or nothing proposition.

So, I will keep my file and learn to be thankful for it. I know it will be in the learning to be thankful, that I will truly learn to see.

17 Replies to “Files”

    1. Thank you Alli! I am trying so hard to open my heart. This is so difficult and so fills me with trepidation. Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂 I love your writing and blog by the way! Glimpses into your family are so sweet!

  1. This is a good image and well expressed (as normal). If only it were so easy as a four sectioned expandable file….but there’s the chapters before your marriage to him and the chapters yet to come. You stand somewhere in the middle, Friend. Do we have barely enough distance to turn and start to see the size of the mountain you’ve been ascending (or are you descending)?

    But the most important part is that Someone does love you faithfully. He is who He says He is. He keeps all His promises and He is actively pursuing your good. Psalm 23 is translated “surely goodness and mercy will follow me….”the word follow there for “follow” is the word we use for stalk. God in Christ is stalking you down to ambush you with goodness and mercy.

    As Cowper wrote, “Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan his work in vain but God is his own interpreter and He will make it plain.”

    May faith be your cane as you navigate your way, relearning to see, and being ambushed by your faithful Love.

    1. May faith be your cane as you navigate your way, relearning to see, and being ambushed by your faithful Love Oh Tamara!!!!! I LOVE your writing…your imagery! You are amazing! YES! YES! YES! I have been stalked…that is exactly what it feels like. My God has stalked me with love, goodness, mercy….and good friends that he sends ahead as a present until the day I see him face to face! He is faithful! Thank you, friend! Your words are priceless!

  2. Leslie,

    I teared up reading this. I had no idea we had so much in common. I have been there and understand. Love you friend.


    1. Thank you, Shayna. I am sorry we have so much in common and yet…you know how much our files mean to us too! 🙂 Thank you for understanding! I love you too, lady! This is not a fun road but we will walk it courageously together!

  3. Beautifully written by a brave woman. Bless you for sharing. May God bless you and continue to guide you as you share and use your heart to minister to others. I am glad I know you and honored to read your writings.

  4. “There is a file for the original workup, one for the bankruptcy case, one for the mandatory disclosures and then a final one for the pleadings.”

    Here is how my files “flex” out:
    Original Workup: the ugly, unsaved sinner who’s selfishness was a work of art.
    Bankruptcy: the realization that I am nothing without Jesus Christ.
    Mandatory Disclosures: full confession (daily) of my sin; my heart’s desire not to be governed by who I am!
    The Pleadings: That I want to be ruled by Who He is…because He IS who He says He is!!! Praise God for His grace and love and redemption; who restored my soul and heart; and made me His!!

    Leslie-your writings will not only help you heal; but will help countless (to you) others heal from heartache of this world.

    Right on, Sister…Write on, Sister!!!

    Know you are wholly and dearly loved!!!

    1. Thank you, Karen. I love how you expanded on the metaphor. Yes….we all have files and He is the only fix for them. So thankful for your encouragement and your light!!!!!!

  5. Leslie,
    Your courage is far more than you realize. Your fortitude is unshakable (even with the hurricanes and tornados that have rocked your world).

    I think of God the Father saying to you, I am well pleased with you my favorite child. Your sorrow has been immense but I have met you there each time and loved you without hesitation. Truly you are a beautiful diadem in My hand.
    Know that I am deeply moved because you love Me. You fill a place in my heart that no other can touch. I delight in you so much when you come and chat with me. I love to hear your voice. It thrills my heart.
    May the love of God, the grace of the Lord Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit passionately embrace you as you walk out this season.


  6. There are times when there can be no words in response. Like Job’s friends, any response creates error. That’s the way I feel after reading your thoughts. All I can say is “Thank You”. I’m sure they will be shared and reshared as they minister to many.

  7. Thank you for letting your Father and I read your “files”. You are a beautiful, wise and courageous woman. “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.” I have had to read Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 many times in my life when I felt like I could not go on. God will guide us as we ask for direction.

    1. Kathy, thank you! Yes….He knows there is a season to all things. I will pass from winter to spring! I cannot wait to see you and dad soon!!!!!

  8. I think “Happy Anniversary” is probably not the best sentiment for today’s milestone. I’m not even sure if it’s true that the hardest year of a devastating loss is the “first” year. But, I am sure that this is a milestone worthy of honor and respect for your God, and the way He continues to show you His WAY through this journey; and for you as you continue to choose to follow him through the dark times, and the many surprising and horrifying and glorifying twists and turns. Indeed, you are his favorite. As you remain connected to him, and to the flawed humans he stuck you with on this planet, this new year will be glorious in new ways, and you WILL be strengthened along the way. Much love to you today, and more hugs and kisses!!

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