Monday, March 25, 2013

One And The Other

Reconciliation is the ultimate "taking back"- a common theme in my life to this point. It's also been my heart's desire throughout the course of my marriage, separation and divorce.

This hope of mine fades if another reconciliation hasn't taken place first. We can't have one without accepting the other.  For more on this, click here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Night Before

I remember the night before the 28th last year. It was a Monday. At work, a coworker heard about it for the very first time, and expressed his shock and sorrow. I was in the height of a cleaning streak (it's what I do when life gets out of control). The Kitten had broken my iron, so there was a late night run to Walmart for a new one- no wrinkles on the 28th. My sister flew into town, so there was a late night airport pick-up too. She helped me straighten my hair, and we stayed up till like 3:00am, talking things out. She read a letter I'd written and sent out the Friday before, and couldn't make it through without weeping with me. How did I ever sleep that night? Not a clue. I kept thinking that if I could just stay up a little longer, maybe the morning wouldn't come, and the reality of things would turn into a distant nightmare. There's a song I listened to over and over called "You'll Come", and I'd always imagine God racing toward us from the distant horizon, mounted on a white horse- the mighty and triumphant Warrior King I believed Him to be, with the light of sunrise behind him, illuminating Him... As He showed up. As He showed up and did something in our situation... Chains being broken, lives being healed, eyes being open... Maybe that's what would happen... And in all of that, He would be revealed- to us and to anyone who witnessed that amazing, merciful, grace-filled thing He'd do...

What I thought of the most though was the sheer volume of all those prayers that had been whispered and spoken and cried out for us. Prayers from hundreds of people from 4 different continents even. People I hadn't even heard from in many years- out of the blue emailing or calling, saying, "you've been on my mind, and I'm praying for you... What's going on?" At the time, I was so amazed by the outpouring of prayer support. But... What had it been for? I went to bed that night fully believing that all those prayers weren't in vain. That God would intervene, rescue, save, redeem, reconcile. Not even because we were asking, praying, begging, pleading... But because I truly believed that's who He was. The One who made marriage, and Who instituted ours. The One we'd invited in to be that Third Cord that would bind us together and make us stronger than we'd ever be without Him. The One who sees, hears, and knows... who softens hearts, changes minds, brings to repentance, protects, heals, binds up, redeems, reconciles. The One who makes all things new, and says He will do something totally new with us. The One who said He could keep us from falling...

And then I woke up to the 28th.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What I awoke to...

I awoke this morning totally groggy, and reset my alarm for an additional hour. It was that bad. Why? Oh... I don't know... Was it the run I completed last night and then felt super energized by? Was it the tea I had with dinner? Was it that my bedroom was 45 degrees and I didn't want to get out from the lovely covers?  Was it that unexpected need to watch 5 episodes of Alias in a row because of the cliffhanger at the end of season 4? I'd like to think it was the run. Anywho. I digress.

So when I woke up the second time, like 20 minutes ago now (7:30 am), these words were in my head: "I remember the bomb, I was there." Couldn't recall what that was from, but thought it was pretty fitting, and also thought it must be a song. Why or how it stirred out of the deep crevices of my brain, I don't know. When I googled it, I recognized it immediately.

Have you ever questioned whether or not something actually happened to you? You remember it happening, but then it seems kind of dream-like, and time has stepped in and inserted some distance for you, and once in a while it seems like that couldn't really be real... ? I shared that thought/feeling with my pastor's wife, and she said her mother had stated the same kind of sentiment after her husband and son passed away. So I guess it must happen to more people than just me...

I got married 2 years 2 months and 2 days ago. I remember the day pretty well.  I remember everything we did to prepare for that day- marriage prep, moving, making my place ready for renters, long talks about hopes, dreams, fears and more.  I remember feeling the most nervous/anticipatory that I've ever ever felt in my life, heart pounding, waiting for those church doors to swing open to walk down the aisle.  I remember melting when my father gave me away.  I remember most of the service, the readings, the "cord of 3 strands", praying together, his grandfather's prayer for us...  I remember kissing my husband for the first time, and walking hand in hand out of that church.  I remember how much I loved him, and knowing he loved me too.

But now, 15 months after separating, and 8 months after the divorce was finalized, it is like those memories could have maybe been a dream...  Did I really get married?! Or how about this question: did I really get engaged, married AND divorced in less than 2 years?!?!?  Sometimes I have to purposefully state that yes- all of this actually happened.  There are pictures documenting the day.  All of my close friends and family were there, and they tell me that they did actually witness the whole thing.  So regardless of if some people choose to sweep that day and me under the rug, it was real.

The rest of the words to that song...  How very very appropriate.

I was there when you shone as bright as Bethlehem from afar.
I was there when you were young and strong and perverted
and everything that makes a young man a star.

I was there and I swear to god and on my mother's grave
on everything I have or ever will embrace.
I was there and I saw it with my own two eyes.

I was there, c'mon and tell me I wasn't worth sticking it out for.
well I was there, and I know I was worth it
cause if I wasn't worth it, that makes me worse off than you are.

I was there when you dropped the bomb
you know, I remember the bomb
and I still hear the bomb
and I still fight the bomb
you know I still fear the bomb
you know I still hate the bomb
sometimes I still get the call...

Try as you might, you cannot lose sight of the things in your life you wish to run away from.  Truth takes the stairs, but it will eventually rise up.  I was there.  

Lyrics from "Surrounded", Chantal Kreviazuk

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Girls' Group

Does God know what He's doing? Sometimes I have really got to wonder... It's so hard these days to align my personal circumstances with what I know about God from Scripture... But let me tell you: He absolutely knew what He was doing when He brought my "girls' group" together!

My best friend and I were both in the same boat for different reasons: we were spiritually dry, wanting more of God, but lacking energy, time, and (for me at least) general motivation. So we decided to do a Bible study together. Instant accountability, structured time in the Word, and definitely enjoyment too- as it'd mean extra (and regular) time together! I was so excited! Well, we didn't even get to meeting together once, before "just us" turned into 3, then 4, then 5... The study started and we kept adding more girls too! God kept putting different girlfriends on my heart or hers, and it's been so wonderful to see who's been brought into the mix. At the height, we totalled 9 ladies, and are currently at 7. ALL of these gals are just gems. We've all been friends for anywhere from 5 to 9 years, at different levels of friendship interpersonally- some never met before.  We all agree though: this group feels like home.  I absolutely love my little group, and am so grateful for this gift- exactly what I needed, and God knew.

We chose the Beth Moore study "The Patriarchs: Encountering The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob".  Not really my choice, because of course I already knew all about those Patriarchs, and didn't really think there'd be too much Mrs. Moore could extract from those old familiar stories.  But... of course...  I was wrong. :)

Almost immediately, the subject matter proved to be hard for me to go through, as topics like marriage, covenant, abandonment, and especially reconciliation have all been touched on in one week or another.  I'll be honest...  the resulting effect is that I usually put off doing my study till Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week (we meet on Thursdays), rush through stuff, and don't take time to ponder, reflect, internalize, etc.  I really hate that divorce is the immediate filter that I see/hear everything through now.  Every personal question the book asks I relate back to the divorce.  But I guess you could say it's been very timely, since marriage, covenant, abandonment and especially reconciliation is all I can ever think of anyway.  The week that dug into that specific topic (in the context of reconciling Jacob and Esau), my Divorce Care group was going through the chapter on reconciliation as well, AND the Mars Hill sermon of that current week was "Jesus Reconciles Us".  I felt like I was getting beated up!  "You don't have to tell me!!", as I figuratively shook my fist in Heaven's direction.

This past week, the actual study was great- it covered Genesis 41-45, the story of Joseph in Egypt, one of my favorite stories in the Bible.  I just love how Beth frequently takes the familiar and makes it seem brand new...  And I do love how God knows what I need to hear.  The spiritual drought is still in full effect for me, but this week I felt a few droplets of rain.  And now I must share.
"We need to drop off our destructive, heavy baggage at the foot of the cross then tarry there for healing until God loads us with treasures to carry into our futures...  the very season that seems least likely to bear fruit may be the place of your Ephraim portion." (Ephraim means "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction".)  "If we don't wise up to it and ask God to help us change, we can transfer an unhealthy pattern in one relationship to another."  (Been there, done that.)  "Only the most misshapen ego sees conflict resolution as straightening out only the other party.  One side may have more work to do, but rarely is the other completely blameless." (That one cuts deep because of how my personal story played out.)
Then there was the video...  I  find that I frequently have "taken offense" to different things Beth will say to us.  They just cut a little too close to the quick.  This week, she drew blood.  I mean, LOOK at all those notes I wrote in!!  She made me cry toward the end, so I went back and watched it on my own too.  Her topic was restoring relationships, and holding out for God's blessing in our very bleak circumstances.  Holy Jamoly...  Here is what I gleaned... (honestly not sure what's quoted and what's my notes, so I'm gonna put the whole thing in quotes.)
"When Satan asks God to mess with us, God will tell him NO unless there is a yes to a greater glory...  Our only hope of ever healing from a devastation is to believe in God's Sovereignty, to see God as still on His throne regardless of my circumstances... In God's process of restoring interpersonal relationships, don't expect to reach the same emotions at the same time.  'The resurfacing of dialogue between Joseph and his brothers spells out the end of alienation.' It doesn't mean nothing is happening...  Even if the other person takes a while, don't give up the ground God has given me.  Stay where your heart is healthy, you're able to express what's on your heart, you're able to confess the sovereignty of God over your situation, and you are thinking 'God thoughts' from scripture- being assured that all will be ok because God is in control...  God's way is to DEAL with stuff.  'Living' stuff that's buried will resurface."
God still on the throne, huh.  This one thing has been the most incredible struggle of my Christian life over the last 6 months.  If He is still on the throne, then why????  Because there might be a greater glory down the road???  I can only hope.  It's the ONLY reason I keep praying at all.  My only prayer is that God will redeem, restore, reconcile, renew, re-establish.

In the meantime, I have these awesome girls that I get to spend Thursday nights with.  They've been so encouraging, loving, graceful, wise...  And I am so grateful.

Holding out for that greater glory...

Psalm 27:14- "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" - ESV

* Quotes taken from "The Patriarchs: Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", by Beth Moore.  Pages 197-217, and session 9 on the DVDs.  LifeWay Press, 2005.