Yesterday, after much reflection, I decided that I was going to chronicle a 30-day journey. The "Cliff's Notes" version is that I have spent almost 3 years of pain and heartache trying to learn how to be a single mom following a very painful divorce. During that time, I had a crisis of my faith. The pieces of my life are slowly starting to come back together, but during the process I have met so many people that seem to be in the same kind of pain, the same state of disarray. On top of that, divorce is a tough topic in the church. It is clear that it is not God's design for families to be split up, but then there are some tough circumstances. It seems easiest, in the midst of our pain during divorce, to retreat into solitude, to withhold the dark struggles we face on a daily basis for fear of judgment being passed upon us. Instead of seeking God, we often avoid him, afraid that we have irrevocably destroyed our lives and our dreams.
I started to wonder what on earth I could do. I'm certainly not a counselor, and I DEFINITELY don't have everything figured out yet. Then, God brought someone across my path that reminded me how powerful it is when we can share each other's burdens. So, that's why I'm here. I'm here because I know all too well that there are many of you walking through the quicksand that seems to be so common for those of us that are in the middle of, or trying to heal from a divorce or separation. I'm also here, because there were many, many times that I looked for various things to ease the pain I was experiencing only to find it lacking the comfort I sought. There are still many struggles I am faced with on a daily basis. My hope for this blog is that through this process, God will renew in me the passion I once had, and that maybe one or two of you will come along and experience the same thing. That said, here was my start to day one:
Nothing could have prepared me for how my morning would start. My alarm went off, as usual, and I hit the snooze button 5 times, as usual. I got the boys ready to head out the door. Ty is in his first year at school, and it is certainly an adjustment for 6 year-olds to have to get up at 7:15 a.m. on a daily basis. It wasn't until I returned home, however, that the difficult events began to unfold.
I am fortunate enough to be experiencing the ups and downs of dating again. Adam, my wonderful man, called me this morning with the news that his closest high school buddy, John, lost his wife in a car accident earlier today. They had only been married a little over a year. Unfortunately, tragedy was already too well known to John. He lost his father in a similar accident during his high school years. My heart aches for him.
I started to cry looking at pictures of the young couple. Suddenly everything else seemed so minute. The stress of wrestling two young boys turned into joy looking at their precious faces. Agonizing over my future, my career, and my relationships became meaningless as I praised God for the air in my lungs, even as tears continued to fall down my face. My body that I sometimes despised for it's scars and imperfections was so beautiful to me, because it was full of life. Adam held me in a vice grip as we prayed for John, his family, and his wife's family and friends.
Whenever we lose someone we love, we tend to think about how abruptly life can end. On the flip-side of that, as I was driving to school, I thought of something I heard Chris Rock say in a movie. (While I wouldn't really consider the man a good source for spiritual wisdom, he managed to have a very profound thought for once) Rock's character is wrestling with the temptation of cheating on his wife and his voice over thought is this: "You know, some people say that life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it's your last. Bull#$@!. Life is long. You're probably not going to get hit by a bus. And you're gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next 50 years."
I don't want to undermine the pain that John, his family and Kelly's family is experiencing right now. Tragedy can be an unbearable thing, and for those that experience it, life is short. But, it made me realize that whether life is short and we only have a brief time here on earth, or whether we live a long time, one thing remains true: we become the sum of our choices. The sum of my choices over the past few years have been very selfish, fueled by a desire to ease the pain I had experienced. I was challenged last night by this excerpt of Stasi Elderedge's booklet "You are Captivating":
"The more we lay down our lives and our control...the more true life we will offer and receive. It is difficult to love. I know! We won't always choose well. I certainly don't. And dear heart, there is grace for us! But, so often, someone will have to pay the cost to love...either in loving or in not being loved. Sometimes we need to lay aside our time, our days, even our careers for a season so that our children will receive from us what they so desperately need - ourselves! And yes, it is hard to do! But in our relationships with our children, when someone has to pay, when someone has to lay their life down...let it be us. Not our children."
The sum of our choices, more than anything, has a profound effect on our children. Today, may we be reminded of the choice God made to give up his son for us. He knows the pain of losing someone. He knows the number of our days, but we don't. May we choose today to lay down our lives, for they are not ours anyway. May we give of ourselves to our children and put their needs before our own. Our lives may be short, or we may live to be 100. All we know is that we have today.
Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for blessing me with the ability to bring life into this world. Today, I surrender my life to you. May the sum of my choices honor you and put your love on display to my children. Comfort those of us who know heartache and tragedy. You are the lover of our souls, and you long to partner with us and shoulder our burdens. Help us to let go of our burdens and not retreat into solitude to fight our battles alone. Wrap us in your unconditional love so that we are rooted and established "to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that [we] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:18) Fill our empty places with yourself, and may we have the courage not to try to fill the void with anything else. Thank you that we never truly have to parent alone, for you are always by our side. Amen"