Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

God builds us up to send us out.

It’s only in the stories that hurt that we can experience His comfort. Have you ever listened to someone share their story and think “How on earth could someone have to go through that much on this earth”? These are the stories that glorify Him most. Because, “if THEY can lean into God through THAT, surely I should be able to.” He comforts us to send us out and comfort others.

He corrects, teaches, and shares wisdom for our own healing and then to share with our children and others. May we learn something from others so that we don’t have to experience everything first hand.

It’s the hard stuff in our lives that is most likely to impart wisdom or recklessness. Anger can wreak havoc on our lives and loved ones. Are you asking for strength, His power to forgive, wisdom?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (NIV)

That’s a promise! It WILL be given to you.

When we feel the full expression of God’s forgiveness for ourselves, we can’t help but offer it to others. When He corrects us, someone else needs to hear.  When He changes our desires, it’s to align us with His will.  When we choose to love anyway and in spite of, it’s because of Him. If it’s HIS love that helped you, it’s HIS love you will share.

God builds us up to send us out.

The way He has worked in your life, the courage He has summoned in you, the ways He has renewed your mind, the healing from that specific brokenness, the relationships He has replaced, the hearts you can touch, all come from your specific story. Each one of ours is different and I would LOVE to hear yours…

He meets us right where we are so that we can assure the next person that He will too. Our God LONGS for us.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (MSG)

In each of your hard places, God has a special purpose. When our faith is tested, it is also strengthened. And, it is strengthened for a reason. Through Christ, we could be used to break a generational cycle, reach others across the globe, touch a heart across the cubicle or our own table, raise a warrior for Christ…all and only through Him. (Philippians 4:13) Who knows how He’ll use you?  That’s part of the adventure. No matter what, giving Him the glory, regardless of the outcome, turns our ashes to beauty.

He doesn’t need us to accomplish His plan, but what an honor to be used in any way, shape, or form for His purposes. This is His desire for us. To turn our lives into living testimonies. Your story may seem too ugly to share, but check your return address…There’s a place with your name on it.

There are many rooms in my Father’s house, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I would not tell you this if it were not so. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to myself, so that you will be where I am. John 14:2-3 (GNT)

Signed with the blood of Jesus, Sealed with His love, and Delivered into His arms…

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Looking Back…

looking back

Looking back isn’t easy. We are told to leave the past in the past. As much as I agree with not living in the past, we can and should definitely learn from it. Looking back can also help us realize how far we’ve come and what we’ve been delivered from.

One of my best friends has recently had the courage to share her story of childhood sexual abuse. What bravery. Her willingness to share helps others to know they are not alone. Sharing removes the mask and the secrets and shame the enemy wants us to carry forever. Jesus broke that chain and empowered her. She has forgiven her abuser, but forgiveness doesn’t mean she can’t share her story. It’s the truth and it’s her story to share. Her willingness to forgive brings grace front and center when we realize what she’s been through. Her courage inspires me to look back and share.

This is me looking back. Maybe someone can relate. Maybe someone won’t feel alone. Maybe someone knows someone else who needs to read this. Maybe someone can learn something.

Looking back on my wedding, I remember the hurt feelings.  I can still feel my shoulders fall and the tears sting during our first dance. I knew, at that moment, I would remember it for the rest of my life. That special moment was ruined for me by a flippant comment he made. Looking back on our honeymoon, I remember his excitement when he found Motocross on TV and his annoyance with the beach. The honeymoon was less about us and much more about what he was willing to do while we were there. One night he actually wanted to go to the beach…..but alone.

Looking back, I remember begging to get pregnant and both times finally getting a very reluctant, “ok, if it means you stop asking and crying” agreement. At the time, that made me so happy. None of it was happily ever after or how it should be. I was neglected, physically and emotionally. I wasn’t doted on or taken care of. I wasn’t told I was beautiful. Instead, I felt lucky to be pregnant and when I complained he reminded me of that fact. This is what I wanted, after all. I put on a happy face and looked forward to us being a happy family one day. I thought maybe he would love me more if I had his child, especially a son.

We had two girls.

I remember the look of disappointment both times when he found out. I remember, even his parents, saying they would need time to get over the fact that the second wasn’t a boy.  They wanted him to have a son too. A football player, a hunting partner. Looking back, I felt sorry for him that I wasn’t giving him one.

Looking back, I remember feeling like my meals weren’t good enough and like I didn’t clean house well enough. We both worked full time.

Looking back, I remember being made to feel like a dismissive mom when I asked if he would take time off to take our daughter to the doctor or stay home when she had fever. Our first was sick a lot. She had recurrent UTIs, ear infections, and strep throat. I missed a lot of work with her. I remember when I asked him, I would get the response: “Don’t you want to take her to the doctor? You’re the mom.” Ummmmm….yes. It’s not a matter of want. Of course, I do. But, I have a job too. Instead of saying that, I would think “you’re right, I am the mom. I should take off…” And, I’d call in or cancel my patients….again. I tried so hard to be the best mom and wife I could be.

Looking back, I remember trying so hard to stay out of debt. Telling him, yes, I’d love to have a boat too, but can we pay such and such off first? He bought the boat the next day. If he wanted it, he got it. He bought boats, guns, second vehicles, hunting gear, and dear leases. When I asked to go on vacation, we could never afford it. “What a waste of money” he thought. I took our daughter to Disney World twice…once alone and once with my mom.

I knew we couldn’t afford for me to go part time at work. But, I did it anyway. That’s the one time I knew I made a risky financial decision, but it was worth it to me. We could have easily afforded it and vacations, if it weren’t for his spending. I remember buying him gifts he returned and buying tickets to events specifically for him that he refused to go to or chose to take someone else. Looking back, I didn’t tell my friends or family about this treatment because I wanted them to love him as much as I wanted him to love me.

Looking back, emotional pain overshadows a lot. Still, I would constantly try to focus on my blessings. The pain continued. What should have been special times in my life were taken from me. Looking back, my oldest daughter’s toddler years were precious to me, but my “incompetence” in his eyes seemed to increase. I am just now regaining and recognizing the fact that I was and am a good mom to our girls.

My youngest was one year old when he left. Her first birthday party was a disaster. He held back from being in any pictures. I was convinced that was the night that he’d come back home. Instead, he called me manipulative and blamed me for everything after the party. I gave him an open door and he slammed the door to our marriage tighter. I should have been the one throwing him out by the way he was treating me and he was refusing to come home. I just couldn’t understand. The pain increased.

While the pain of my divorce was intense. Looking back, the pain I endured during the marriage probably did the most damage and is taking the longest to unfold, recover, and learn from. Story after story after story. Looking back, I remember, holding my head in my hands and asking my mom “Let me get this straight. He treated me like this and then left me?” She simply nodded, yes.

It wasn’t until I couldn’t bare the thought of my girls thinking this treatment was okay, that I stood up. It wasn’t until he stopped touching me at all. He wouldn’t even hug me if I asked. I would never want them treated that way by anyone, especially their husband. And, if they were, I’d have no one to blame but myself for allowing it. That’s what it took. And, that was his way out. Out of a marriage he hadn’t wanted to be in for a long time. And, he took it. He blamed me on the way out the door…”Just so you know, you kicked me out. I didn’t leave my family.” After begging him to come home one night (Why? To work on the marriage, I didn’t want a divorce), he told me he’d rather live in a ditch than come home to me.

His words hurt in the very beginning. His words hurt in the middle. His words hurt at the very end. By the time he left, I was an emotional bloody pulp.

Looking back, I see how bad it was. I couldn’t when I was in it. Looking back, I see God showing me more love than I’d ever known or felt in the midst of the least love I’d ever known. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He was with me. Even through the deceit and blaming, God covered me. The emotional pain was killing me and God wouldn’t allow that treatment one more year, one more day. My desire to stay married and honor my vows, no matter what, prevented me from walking away. Instead, I got left after summoning the strength to stand up. The Lord removed him. Then He picked me up, washed me off, and started the work of healing, comforting, and teaching. What a beautiful sight.

I thought that I was just that miserable to live with, but it turns out he was in love with someone else. They’ve been together ever since.

From the moment I knew divorce was imminent, I started asking God to help me. To help me forgive. To help me coparent. To help me do it to His Glory. And to protect our girls. I have forgiven him. I release that pain to my Father. And, I have learned from it. We still deal with each other on an almost daily basis because of the girls. But, he treats me better now. He loves them very much. He comes to their events. He takes them to the doctor. He’s a better dad now. And, I thank God for that.

My prayer for him is not that his marriage falls apart. Not that he comes back. Not that he gets left. Not that he suffers like I did. Not that he feels abandoned or blamed. But, that he treats her better. That our daughters will see him treat his wife well. That he will look to the Lord for guidance and learn to respect women. That he receives the love and grace offered to him. And, whether he chooses to or not, that our girls will never consider that treatment normal or acceptable. That they will know they are worthy of respect and kindness. That they will value themselves enough to stand up to the alternative. I care too much about their hearts and futures to pass along anything else.

Thank you, Lord, for the strength to stand up and the strength the share.

 

 

 

Why Share?

share

The more I read and hear other people share their hard stories and testimonies, the more I am convinced that sharing honestly is cathartic. It helps others and it helps the person that shares. So, here goes…

Most women think that their husband having an affair would be their worst nightmare. This happened to me. Most women would feel worse if their husband refused to admit it and instead left….for her. This happened to me. In these circumstances, most women see the relationship fall apart. This didn’t happen for me. Instead, they married. And he seems much happier with her than he ever did with me. He is also much more involved in our daughters lives now than he ever was with me. Most women would hope their daughters would have an issue with the other woman because of these events. Mine don’t. They love her immensely. As thankful as I am for them to have a stepmother who loves them and that they love, it pangs me deeply. Because of how it all went down.

I share to let others know that they are not alone.

It’s a daily struggle. I don’t like any of it, but I do value the lessons it has taught me. To depend on The Lord. That justice is His. That He sees and knows every detail. That forgiveness isn’t for them, it’s for me. That emotional pain wants to lead us down the path of destruction…sex, drugs, excessive alcohol, excessive anything. To not date (or marry) based primarily on physical chemistry or physical pleasure. That God calls us to His arms, but our flesh really wants to go the other way. That you can’t make someone love you or be faithful to you, nor should you have to. That anger is better released in tears than in rage. That Jesus sympathizes with our deepest pains and meets us there. To not idolize your spouse. To know your own personal worth as a child of God. That I’m so ready for heaven, where all pain is gone. Somehow, incomprehensively, it will all be relieved.

I share for you, for me, for God. I share because He asks me to and supplies the courage to. I share because honesty helps me. I share because God was there before, during, and after. I share because He is faithful and deserves all the credit that I haven’t gone off the deep end……yet.

Courage to Face the Fear…

courage

The Lord is on my side, and I am not afraid of what others can do to me. Psalms 118:6 (CEV)

This verse is inspiring, but still hard for me to wrap my head around. One of my greatest fears is hurting someone’s feelings with my words or actions. I think that’s because I know how that feels all too well. Having your feelings hurt can inflict wounds so deep that it takes a lot longer to heal than a physical wound. I’d take a broken bone over a broken heart or spirit any day. If left untreated, the scars left behind by hurt feelings and a wounded spirit may never heal and leave our hearts bitter, hard, untrusting, and fearful and this, in turn, hurts others.

My own feelings have been dismissed, hurt, and minimized countless times in my 36 years. Because I know this pain intimately, hurting others scares me greatly. My fear in standing up for myself has been fed by my fear of disappointing others, hurting their feelings, being misunderstood, or just plain trying to keep the “peace”. What this verse means to me is that if we stand up for ourselves or others in LOVE, we can be firm, honest, and true to ourselves and God, without the fear of how the person will retaliate. Leave their reactions to God and let Him deal with the circumstances of you standing up and speaking the truth. It takes God-given strength to speak the truth when you have lived in fear of other’s reactions your whole life. You’ve heard the saying “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes”? This rings increasingly true to me. Ask God to help you perform the actions He desires and let Him deal with the reactions. Speak the truth in love and the truth shall surely set you free. He knows our hearts. That is such a relief to me and I hope it is to you….because one thing we all need in this world is relief!