This season of practicing gratefulness has been tough. There have been days where I have really had to work hard to maintain a spirit of gratitude. This week has been especially difficult.
I started the week with my 22nd anniversary. A day that brought forth so much internal struggle. I am thankful for the good times and the children that God blessed me with but I am hurt and saddened by the failing of the marriage. When you've been with someone for half of your life, it's painful to have to say goodbye. No matter the reason why. I am thankful for coworkers who helped me through that day with lots of laughter and silliness. I am also thankful for my Bible study ladies who cover me in prayer on a daily basis but even more on the tough days.
On Tuesday I had to deal with a situation involving my daughter. A situation where she made a bad decision and had to learn a hard lesson. A situation that she and her Dad purposefully kept from me. I am thankful that she reached out for guidance before making the wrong choice but I am so angry that she was not given counsel that told her not to do it. I am so proud of her for being honest about her involvement when she was asked. She did what was right in that moment even when she knew that her friends would be upset with her.
I am also thankful for friends who allowed me to vent to them and process some of my emotions before my daughter and I discussed the situation. I can't even imagine the pain that she deals with on a daily basis as a teenager whose parents are going through a divorce. And then on top of that she has to deal with her Dad seeking her approval for the new woman in his life. I have to find a balance between firmness and gentleness as well as grace and consequences when parenting her.
By Wednesday I was emotionally drained and exhausted. But WHAM!!! I was hit again. This time it was an email from my attorney. After over a month with no communication, we finally had received a response from my husband's attorney. It was mostly good news about the changes we were proposing to the agreements.
But then it ended with this, "Recently your client has been disparaging mine on Facebook with regard to child support. Considering the fact that we are working towards a resolution of this matter, and that my client has generally been in agreement with all of her requests, this behavior is particularly disturbing and unacceptable. Disparaging each other in a manner viewable by the children is inappropriate, please discuss this matter with your client."
I was early into my shift at work when I read that. I felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut. My chest felt heavy and I got this terrible nauseous feeling come over me. I just wanted to crumble into a mess of tears. But I couldn't.
I am so thankful that I was working with my all time favorite co-worker that day. She has walked this journey on a much harder level than I am. And through everything that she has been through, she is still one of the kindest, sweetest, most generous fun-loving people you will ever meet. She has shared so much wisdom and "been there, heard that" counsel with me throughout this whole process. Her and Jesus are the only reasons I could make it through that day with a smile on my face. It was smiling through tears at times, but I made it.
Thursday started with the early shift and a yummy meal with my coworkers. Then it was off to start a new tradition of sharing a Thanksgiving meal with the newly weds and her parents. There was lots of laughter and great conversation. The boys continued the tradition of some turkey day football. We ended the day watching one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf!! And Friday, I began Christmas decorating.
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, because it's God's will for us. It's not always easy to be thankful. especially when our circumstances are painful and ugly. But if we look to Jesus we can see how we can turn our pain into joy.
It's called "Eucharisteo". "It's how Jesus at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things - take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. This, is the hard eucharisteo. Lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty." ~ Ann Voskamp
No matter how difficult and painful my circumstances may be, there is always something to be thankful for. It can be a hug from a friend, a smile from a stranger, an encouraging text, God's grace, a good night's sleep or a silly movie that makes you laugh. There are days when you have to lean into the ugly and be thankful in it to experience the joy from it.
Jesus you are my healer and my rescuer. You hold me up and give me strength. You give me calm amidst the chaos. You have always been right by my side and carried me through so much. You have never let me fall.
I can feel your presence with me through all of the disappointments and struggles. Even though I don't always understand the circumstances, I know that I can trust the voice that speaks peace over me. I know that when I cry out to you that you hear and you care.
I need your Spirit to flood my heart and to comfort it today.....especially today. My heart is fragile and weary from the battle. The cracks are beginning to heal but some days what has healed is torn open again.
Today as I reflect on 22 years of marriage, I am saddened to look at the pictures and see the pain behind the smiles. I remember the fun times and the laughter and it brings a smile to my face. We built a family together and had some great adventures. But the suffocating control and degrading atmosphere always there.
Lord, I need you to remind me of who I am in you. As I lose a part of my life, help me remember that your love for me is constant. When hateful and vile comments are made about me, remind me of your truth. Remove the negative thoughts from my mind and replace them with Your truth.....Your love.....Your grace.
I know that I am not perfect but I also know that I have lived my life striving to please you and honor you in my roles as a wife and mom. When the feelings of failure overwhelm me please lift me out of the deep and flood my heart with your love.
Lord, I need your wisdom and guidance as I step into an unknown future. Stop me when I veer off the path that you have set before me. Carry me when I want to give in and give up. Give me strength to persevere through the daily responsibilities of being a solo mom. I thank you for the godly mentors in my life and in the life of my children. I know you use these people to encourage and support us when we're struggling to understand.
Continue to heal my heart and remove any sprouts of bitterness so they don't take root and grow in my heart. Help me to show love and kindness to those who hurt me. And in those times of loneliness, show me that I never walk this life alone and that you are the only one who can bring me lasting joy and overwhelming love.
Your love has sustained me through so many troubles and it is because of your amazing grace and unending love that I continue to live this life with a smile on my face. I know that you will continue to show up and show off how much you care for me and my children.
Thank you Lord for flooding my heart with your love, my mind with your truth and my spirit with your peace.
A few years ago I sat on the couch in her office feeling lost, afraid and dying on the inside. He had reached out to her in an attempt to fix our marriage. We had sat on that couch together every couple of weeks for almost a year. We had made some progress but today he was done. He did not like her analysis of him and his way of doing things. He was adamant that the counseling was not working and that we would not be returning for another session.
I just sat there in silence. I was devastated. For the first time in my marriage I had found someone who listened and understood my pain. She offered me hope that there could be change in our relationship. But now he was taking that away. I didn't know what to do.
I will never forget her turning to me and telling me that she would be happy to start seeing me alone and helping me work through my own personal struggles. I felt hopeful and wanted to say "Yes, please" right then and there. But I was afraid to voice that desire. I was afraid to make that choice for myself. All I could do in that moment was shake my head and softly say, "OK" as she handed me her card.
I don't remember what we talked about or if we even talked on the drive home from her office that day. I was lost in my own thoughts of what if I decided to go see her. I wondered how he would react and if it was ok for me to see her alone. People saw marriage counselors to help them have better marriages. But what good would my seeing her alone do? I convinced myself that I'd be fine and we'd just figure it out and make it work.
About a month later, we had an argument about something. I don't even remember what it was about. All I remember was this feeling of invalidation and fear and hurt. I was so tired of feeling that way and I knew that it was time for a change.
I found the courage to pick up the phone and make my very first counseling appointment for me. And I am so thankful for that 30 seconds of courage. It began a growth process in me that gave me back my voice, my value and my peace.
We have discussed parenting struggles, relationship hurdles and personal goals. She has let me vent and then let me vent some more. We have laughed together and cried together. She has prayed for me, over me and with me. Throughout every session she has always pointed me to my relationship with God and how my daily choices should reflect that. She encouraged me to set boundaries and to use my voice again.
I am so grateful that we had a foundation together before the events of this year sent me in a tailspin. She has been such a vital part of my support system as I have navigated the overwhelming emotions of betrayal and anger and devastation. We have come a long way together.
However, today I learned that she will be leaving the practice to pursue another opportunity. I am so excited for this new adventure for her but I will definitely miss our meetings together. She has been such a lifeline for me this year. So now I am left with a choice. Do I begin a new relationship with another counselor in the practice or do I navigate my way through this life on my own?
It is something I will definitely be praying about over the next couple of weeks while I wait for my final appointment with her.
Twenty two years ago, he came into my life and my world was forever changed. I had no clue what it meant to be a mom. I was an unmarried 23 yr old whose plans for the future weren't going as planned. I was selfish and independent. I was determined to do things my way.
But when the nurse placed that baby on my chest, my world stopped. Life wasn't just about me anymore. I never knew it was possible to love anyone as much as I did in that moment. Happy tears of joy streamed down my face as this beautiful baby boy stole my heart. And with each passing day, my love for him grew and grew.
There were many bumps along the way as I was learning how to be a mom. Thankfully, he gave me grace and understanding when I blew it. I like to think that we helped each other grow in character, strength, and faith in God. We have celebrated so many milestones....birthdays, first day of school, football games, first girlfriend, graduation, college and engagement.
Yesterday, we celebrated a new milestone. As soon as he saw her, his world stopped. She was breathtaking in her lace gown and white veil. I saw his tears of joy when he looked at her. I saw the love in his eyes and in that moment I knew, she had stolen his heart. She was his love for a lifetime.
My little boy was standing there a man vowing to love, honor and cherish his bride. Promising to be there for her in sickness and in health, in good times and bad.
And once again there were tears of joy streaming down my face as I witnessed my son launch into a new chapter with his beautiful bride. A chapter that will need grace and understanding for the bumps, forgiveness for the mistakes and sacrificial love in everyway.