I was listening to an online message this morning from Pastor Michael Todd entitled "U R Loved". He said that love and value go hand in hand. When you love something or someone, you value it...you take care of it. When someone truly loves you, they value you. And when you are loved and valued at a young age, it can make a huge difference in your life as an adult.
"There are extreme differences between children who were valued at a young age and children who were not valued at a young age. When children are valued at a young age, they have the ability to step out and try things that may present danger. They have the ability to comprehend and get through situations of struggle easier. They are able to adapt in other environments easier, as well as they are able to problem solve in hard situations. They can do all of this because when they were younger they were told that they were valued."
As I thought about that, I realized that the strength and abilities and determination I have now is a result of being valued and loved from a very young age. I was raised by two parents who loved me and praised my accomplishments and supported me. They had rules and most of them were pretty strict. I was required to obey and there were consequences when I didn't...because they loved me. My parents were not perfect and they didn't get every parenting decision right. But there was never any doubt that I was loved and valued.
The core strength that I pull from today was planted in those early years of my life. My ability to never give up and never quit comes from knowing that my parents believed in me. So much of who I am now is because of how I was raised.
I am so thankful for loving parents who understood the importance of telling their kids that they loved them and that God loved them even more. Without that foundation, the struggles of my adult life would have overwhelmed me and I would have just given up. I know that whatever I face in this life, that I can handle it. I refuse to let struggles and challenges defeat me.
As I navigate this new life of co-parenting.....solo parenting.....shared parenting, I realize that I am at a loss. Each day I get up with one goal....do everything in my power to protect my kids from the negative effects of this divorce. I try to work a little extra but not too much. I want to be able to pay the bills but still spend time with my kids. I want to be there for as many of their sporting events and activities as possible. When I have to make a choice, I immediately think about how it will impact their current life situation. When I'm asked out on a date, I decline because I know it's too soon....for me and for them.
There is a part of me that would love to just up and move away for a fresh new start. It would be easy to run into the arms of someone new and start a new life. It would make life much easier to have someone to share the financial burden and help heal the emotional wounds. I could self medicate with alcohol or sex to numb the pain. But I can't take the "easy" way out. It's not what's best.....for me or my kids. I know that. I see that. I understand how vitally important that is. It's a long hard journey to healing but the hard work will be worth it on the other side. Only through God's work in my heart and life can I experience true and complete healing, I have to learn to trust Him.
And yet there are so many things with this divorce that are out of my control. There are choices being made that negatively impact my kids. And that is not ok.
It's not ok that my kids don't get overnight visits with their Dad because he doesn't have his own place. It's not ok that someone else's kids get his time instead. It's not ok that another woman considers herself "blessed" when a man spends time with her child instead of his own. It's not ok for my kids to be an "issue to be weighed". I can't begin to understand the reasoning.
There is so little time left before they become adults. In just over three years, the youngest will be finishing high school and moving onto college. The parenting responsibilities will change drastically at that time. They won't need me the same way that they do now. There will be plenty of time then to pursue my "official" new start.
In the mean time, I have lots of work to do. There are bills to pay to keep us in our home. There are appliances needing replaced and rooms needing updated. There are decisions to be made about college choices and career paths. There are lessons that God wants to teach us if we are open to His working. This time is crucial in their lives to help set them on their way into adulthood. My focus has to be on them not me.