Broken Dreams

I am getting rid of my son’s baby stuff. I kept everything. When my son was a baby I was just sure that a wonderful man would come along, I would get remarried and have more babies. So I kept everything. Clothes, bedding , toys, furniture, accessories of all kinds. As he grew older, I just kept putting the old stuff in storage. My storage unit, which once had plenty of space, slowly filled up. Well my baby is seven now, there is still no man on the horizon and the thought of having another baby has become decidedly less appealing. So I am purging. Everything.

But as I worked in my storage unit. I looked at all the other things, that have been in there for the past 7 years. Tables and chairs, cake pans, special linens, art, all the things to make a house a home. And I thought, at what point do I give up on that dream too? At what point do I give up on ever being able to gather friends around my table that seats 8. At what point do I give up on having a kitchen I can bake cakes in? At what point do I give up on having space to display the things I love?

When I took a Divorce Care class, years ago, they told us to make a list of all the things we had to grieve the loss of. Not just the loss of your spouse, but the loss of the plans and dreams. The thing is, no one told me those losses would continue so far into the future. I have healed. Most of the time I don’t even think about it much. But lately I look around and I see that there is still so much fall out. There are the holes that I wrote about last year. But there is just the everyday drag, and the feeling that none of this should have been like this. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go back. I wouldn’t trade the lessons I have learned and the person I have become for anything. But I just want something to be different. Something to make it a little easier. I want someone to wrap me in their arms and tell ME it is going to be all right. Tell me not to give up on my dreams. Tell me that someday I will be able to sit around my table with friends and celebrate that this chapter is over.

 

 


Too Long

There is a saying that floats around on the Internet, I am sure you have seen it. It goes something like this: Depression is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of having been too strong, for too long. I used to think it was kind of stupid, because depression after all is a mental illness, a chemical imbalance.

I used to think it was stupid…until about a month ago when I started feeling like it was describing me. I am tired. Tired of always being strong. I can feel the depression creeping in, the apathy and despair and I can feel the hope draining out. And I try to fight. But fighting takes strength, and I am just so tired.

Having to be strong all the time takes its toll. Never having the luxury of falling apart, because there is no one to pick up the pieces. No one to pick up the slack. No one to hold you. No one to help you make the decision. Just you, all the time. It is too much for one person. We weren’t made for this.

I am guessing that most single people feel this way at some point or another. But I guarantee that ALL single moms (and dads) feel this way. Parenting wasn’t designed to be a one-person job. It is hard to constantly pour yourself out for someone, with out someone pouring into you.

There are two more quotes that were shared today by friends as I was thinking about this, and I thought they were rather fitting. The first one I thought was beautiful way of putting it.

“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but lets be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul, but cracks to put their love into is the most calming thing in this world.” – Emery Allen

The second more in depth

“To be loved but not know is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully know and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Timothy Keller

I am tired of being strong alone. I need some kisses on my wounds, I need to be known, I need to be liberated, I need to be humbled, I need to be fortified.

Holes

“Time heals all wounds”…but time doesn’t fill the holes.

Driving down the road, suddenly I feel a tangible emptiness on my left ring finger. Where once there was something, emptiness, a hole. I have been acutely aware of holes lately.

Until lately I have been able to ignore the fact that something is missing in my life and my son’s life. Life has been good, and he has never known anything different. (of which I am grateful)  But as he gets older things have gotten harder. His behavior is out of control. I am at my wits end. And that is when I notice it. The gaping hole. The hole where a father should be. I have tried to tell myself all along, that we will be fine, that he will turn out just fine, that I can do this. And while all those things may be true, I am left to wonder how things would be if the hole was filled. I can say with certainty that things would be different. How? I don’t know. That is the thing about holes, you never know what could have been. You just know that it would have been different.

I have prayed for this hole to be filled from the day it was created. And yet it is still empty. And I have to stare down the disappointment. It is hard to keep praying for something through disappointment. It is hard to keep praying for other things, and people, when the disappointment of unanswered prayer is staring you in the face every. single. day.

Contentment. Something that I thought I had figured out. But then the disappointment swells up. Today in church we talked discontentment. How it is really a way of saying that God’s way is not good enough. We want God’s will, our way. But it doesn’t work that way. If we want God’s will, it has to be His way.

I want God’s will, more than anything. Because outside of it, life is just a purposeless mess. Not to say my life hasn’t seen its fair share of messes, but I can see his handwriting all over it, and I can see purpose growing from the pain. But it is hard to be patient when more seems to be falling into the holes. I know that he will fill them; He has given me assurances of that. But I feel like a ticking time bomb, that if they are not filled soon, it will all cave it. I have to want His will HIS way, not my way, because He understands why, and I don’t.

How do I go about keeping the disappointment at bay? I need to focus on the daily expressions of his love. The little things that happen all the time that show me his Love for me. I cannot and will not let those things be swallowed up in the holes.

Doesn’t God Care?

Recently I had a conversation with a friend that went something like this: “Doesn’t God care that I could be homeless for Christmas? What else can he take from me?”  Before I could respond this was quickly followed by  “And don’t tell me he wouldn’t do that to me…Because he would!” And I had to answer, “yes that is true…but I don’t think he wants to.”

What do you say when the pain is so real and the reality is so grim? The answers seem so cliché. God loves you. He will never leave you. He will take care of you. He will provide. He has a plan for you. I will be praying for you. Time heals. It will get better. These are all true, but they sound so hollow. So what do you say? I am sorry, that sucks.?

I remember hearing all of those things, and thinking, that was all well and good for them to say, but they weren’t walking in my shoes.  Until you have been torn apart and put back together those words are just that, words. The only way that they have any meaning is if you can back them up.

Every time these words come out of my mouth I cringe inside, because I am painfully aware of how they sound. So when they do, I always try to qualify it. I say: I know how it feels. Everything you are saying I have said before. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t easy. And yet, I KNOW these things to be true. I KNOW he loves, I KNOW he provides, I KNOW he has a plan, I KNOW time heals, I KNOW it will get better. Not because someone told me so, but because I have been there.

I don’t have easy answers, magic prayers, or 10 step plans. But I know that God is good and he loves you, and if you cry out to him from the depths of your hurt and your pain, he will be with you. While I can’t promise that you won’t be homeless for Christmas, I do know, that even in that, he will provide for you. I can’t promise he won’t take anything else away from you, or give you exactly what you want, because he will do what he needs to do, to get your attention and change your heart, but if he wants your attention and your heart, he has to have a plan for you.  I know what it feels like, to feel like nothing will ever be “normal” again, and but I also I know that, with time, it will.

It is weird being on the outside looking in., seeing the pain and the devastation, but because I am not in the middle of it, I can see God’s fingerprints all over it. And I can honestly tell my friend that “It is going to be alright,” because, in the end, it will be. I wish I could just push a button and make the end magically appear. But it doesn’t work that way. We all have to walk through our own trials; we have to do the hard work. We have to surrender ourselves to the work God is doing in us. We have to wrestle with the why questions, even if in the end we realize we may never know why. We heal, we move forward, we come out the other side, stronger and more of the person God wants us to be.

We also come out being the kind of person who can say these words and mean every one.

Broken Hearts

Tonight my heart breaks. It breaks for all those whose hearts are broken. All around me people are hurting, lives are falling apart, and people are struggling to hold them together. My heart aches. It is not just one person, and the ironic thing is that is what enables me to write this, if it was I wouldn’t write because I wouldn’t want to jeopardize their privacy, or make them feel like a burden, but it is not just one, it is many.  (And none of them are a burden)

I have been called to reach out to single moms. Called, that is such a serious sounding word. But really all it means is that God wants me to use my experiences to help others. Over the last few years, he has filled my life with single moms, some have helped me, others I have had the privilege of helping, all of us have shared a little bit of this crazy journey we are on. Common experience draws us together.

Lately another common experience has been drawing me together with others. Heartbreak. That terrible thing, which led most of us into the land of single motherhood. Those heart-wrenching experiences, that we would much rather forget, now that we have reached a place of relative contentment with our situation. When friends have poured their hearts out, I have had to remember, it all comes back. Empathy is such a wonderful thing to be on the receiving end of, but often difficult for the giver, because you have to remember what it felt like.  What it felt like to have your heart ripped out and trampled on, the uncertainty, the fear, the guilt, and the failure.

I have been comfortable with sharing life with single moms. I have such a heart for these amazing ladies. This new phase is not comfortable. It is quite uncomfortable to relive emotions that I have long since put to rest. But I know that it is where I am supposed to be. Using the pain that I went through to help others, somehow makes it, if not worth it, less pointless.

Seeing the same kinds of things happening over and over again does not make it easier to explain. Every time, I shake my head in bewilderment, how could he be so stupid, how could be so selfish, how could he not see the amazing thing he has here, how could he walk way (unmarried), how could he not honor his vows (married), how could he not obey God.  (Disclaimer: I am not bashing guys, it is not always the guy, there ARE great guys out there, but in the situations I have encountered lately it has been the guy) But today I was struck with a thought, sin is sin, and it all looks disturbingly similar. Satan uses the tried and true methods of self-centeredness and deception, if it works, why reinvent the wheel. So while the details may be different, the underlying factors are often the same. It is a relief to know it is not just a bad case of counter-transference on my part. And it points to the only answer to fix any of it, more truth and more God.

Bringing up all these memories and emotions stirs up fear. I wonder if it is really worth it to do it all again. With the full-scale spiritual war being waged against marriages and families do I really stand a chance if I try again? Is it worth the struggle, is it worth the pain, and is it worth the risk. And then I remember that fear is the enemies number one weapon again me. It is my Achilles heel. It can paralyze me. But since I have realized that, I can fight against it. I don’t have to live my life in fear; I don’t WANT to live my life in fear. I want to live my life in love and trust. I want to be secure in the love of God, trusting that He has a plan. If I listen and follow his leading I have nothing to fear. Except fear itself. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Three Years Ago

Three years ago today I left San Antonio, TX. I packed a U-Haul and a car and I drove away with my son. Leaving behind everything else. Leaving a house, a church, friends, pets. Leaving a husband, who had already left me. But more that that I left behind hopes, dreams, plans for my life. I was a brand new mom, who had plans to stay at home with her son.  I was a wife who had plans to improve my marriage, to become a new person and trust God for the rest. The rest of my life was not set in stone, but it fell within the framework of marriage, for better or worse.

Then, everything came crumbling down around me. So I did the only thing I could do, I clung to God with both hands to avoid going down with the ship. The confusion, betrayal, uncertainty, anger and fear washed over me, but did not take me down with it. In the beginning I was sure that God would restore the relationship, bring him to his senses and bring forgiveness and healing. As the weeks turned into months and the months to years I struggled to understand God’s will. I stopped holding out hope, and belief became a pragmatic choice. Despite my feelings I knew that if I really believed what I said I believed about God, I had to leave the possibility open for reconciliation. If I say that God is a God who can do miracles, that he can heal the sick, raise the dead and change lives, then, I have to believe that he can do those things in my life. That he can heal marriages and change people…even him…even me.

Time and time again I have felt done, ready to move on…and time and time again I have heard God’s, still small voice ask me, “What if?” And time and time again I have struggled with it, and asked God why? And every time I have had to say Yes God. Yes I do believe in you, yes I do believe you can change hearts and lives, I don’t see it happening and I certainly don’t feel it, but if you bring it about I will obey. The last time was the hardest, but somehow it was different. It was recognition not just that I would obey, but recognition that God has the best plan for me. That it really isn’t about WHAT God has planned, it is more about TRUSTING that whatever it is, it is going to turn out better that any plan I could have hoped, dreamed, or wished for.

And maybe that is why it has been three years; God was waiting for me to trust, to let go of the notion that I could make plans for my life. Since then I have felt a release that I never felt before. It isn’t just me wanting to be done anymore. It is me knowing that this chapter is almost done, and whatever God brings in the next is going to be good, no matter what shape it takes.

It doesn’t mean that it isn’t scary and confusing, because it is. It just means that even thought I don’t understand why I am where I am, I can trust that Someone does and is going to use it for good. My job is just to do the next thing, walk through the doors as they open, and trust God to do the rest.