Tag Archives: Faith

Letter to an Ex X

Dear X,

If I had known what I know now, we wouldn’t have gotten married. We wouldn’t have had an amazing child together. I wouldn’t have stopped trusting so openly and without cause. I wouldn’t have been carrying around baggage. I wouldn’t question myself on every single decision. It’s likely that I wouldn’t have sold the family business. I wouldn’t question my mind.

But it happened. You conned me. You fooled me, my mom, my family, and your step-son. When it comes down to it, you felt unworthy. You started using more routinely. Because, I believe you were already using. You decided that you couldn’t do it without superhuman characteristics. So you sold your soul, and your wife, your ‘sons’, your dreams, for something that made you feel so good at the time.

I have a hard time understanding, because I haven’t been there. I won’t even take antibiotics. But I have been addicted to things. I ‘needed’ cigarettes for many years, and diet coke, and sugar. So that makes me just as ‘bad’, even though I manage to hold a job, pay my bills, pay for our child’s holidays, birthdays, school functions, soccer, karate, church functions, and playdates.

I have accepted that you will never be a part of anything financial in our child’s life. That you will forever disappoint him because you cannot test clean. I’ve watched every episode of Intervention. So has my boyfriend. We have talked in great length and depth about how we will never unburden ourselves or Ethan from this massive web of destruction you have casted upon our lives. I have had nightmares about what you are doing to destroy your life, and how that affects our son. He loves you, but he accepts that you are not here. You cannot be there for yourself, let alone him.

You talk as though everything wrong you have ever done is in the past, yet you have zero proof that you are any closer to that next milestone of where you ‘should’ be. You have clued me into how you cheated on your lab tests. How you used until 3 days prior, and then switched to suboxone – the very drug that now, people are getting hooked on. The very drug that could kill someone like me. I didn’t deserve this, but no one that lives through the cleaning up of an addict does. Why should I be immune?

I shouldn’t. That’s the truth. It was God’s plan for me, and God will continue to see me through. Losing our home, my car, your job, your income, your support, is not the worst of it. In truth, the worst of all of this rests in something much deeper.

Our child has learned that he can only depend upon one of us. Now, he is happy to lean on anyone else. This creates the gang-mentality that I will likely have to always combat. I always dreamed of having the family I didn’t have. That will likley never happen because of the environment your addiction has created within our lives. But as a Christian, I am supposed to forgive you, accept you, and turn the other cheek. And this is the worst part. I hate myself for not being able to do any of that.

You have ruined my life. You have ruined our child’s life. Instead of starting from the bottom and working our way up, I am forced to start in the trenches. Our son is 8. Your addiction, you say, began when I was 5 months pregnant. You are repeating what you knew. I am a workaholic, repeating what she knew.

You had a horrible childhood. Your parents both had serious issues, and were heavily medicated. They spent most of your childhood unemployed because of it. Guess who gets lost in the shuffle?

I refuse to disappoint our child. He deserves a family who shows him love, who teaches him how to love unconditionally. I may not be able to reconcile what you have done, but I can work to improve the future of our child. And while I may have spent the bulk of my life believing that I don’t deserve more, I believe that I absolutely do.

So my plea to you is this – please work on you. With everything you are, and everything you ever wanted, work on you. Make strides in that direction. Go to meetings. Make valuable friendships, based on trust and clean living. Pray. Listen to what God has to offer. Earn a living. Be a grown-up. Show our child what it’s like to be a man.

We will take your recovery seriously when you do the same. When you’re finished with the lies, the manipulation, and the fiction. Our son wants his dad back. You told him the truth. Now live the promise. I refuse to assist in the lying, in the promises, in the fairytale. The work is yours to do. Whether you do it or not, our child will feel loved, with or without you. It’s your call. I cannot do it for you, and I cannot help you anymore.

If anyone out there is contemplating destroying their lives, consider this. When you were a child, you had those lucid, beautiful moments. You will continue to experience those, but not if you are leaning on substances. Those are lies. BE YOU. Naked. Truthful. Genuine. And vulnerable. Beauty is found in solace and serenity. Not in substance.

Advertisements

Bitter Beginnings

When you know that you’re supposed to be with someone; that there is no one else in the world so perfect for you. When you know that that someone makes you happier than you knew possible. When you sleep more peacefully with that someone than you do alone, because you feel safe, secure, and protected for once. That’s when it’s easy to become frustrated with circumstances, but that’s also when you know, that as long as it takes, and as long as you need to wait, you absolutely will.

As a single mom of two wonderful boys, I find myself frustrated almost every Friday night. My boyfriend and I had 6 months of every other weekend spent together, bonding, getting to know each other, exploring cities and cultures together. But in light of current circumstances, i.e. one of the dads cannot be trusted to keep my child, we have had to put our ‘alone together’ time on hold. There was no question about that. His safety/ happiness is first.

Where does that leave us – two star-crossed lovers, crazy about each other, and always wanting more? Well, it leaves us in the hands of Faith. Like everything else leading up to ‘us’, this time just makes us appreciate one another more; makes us enjoy time alone together exponentially more, and gives us time to fantasize and daydream about how we want our lives to be…until that fantasy becomes a reality.

Love isn’t ever perfect. There are always obstacles, challenges, and battles.  But when you find you’re one, the peace sets in, and God whispers gently ‘I got this’. The amazing thing is that he truly does.  As for ‘mine and me’, I don’t ever question that. God has been in this relationship the entire time. There has never been just HE and I, and that is how I KNOW this is forever.

Lucky Charms

Anyone who has ever experienced the joy of being in a new relationship with an old friend can attest to the butterflies that take up residency in the pit of the stomach; the nerves and anticipation at joining two worlds together; and the crazy infatuation that, if given the right nourishment, can blossom into the deepest and most transcendent of loves. Yet there are so many logistics that play into this major shift in lifestyle that the sheer ‘getting together’ can seem more like a chess game than the organic progression of spirit that falling in love should be. Somehow, if it’s right, the headaches that should logically play into planning seem to dissipate, and the whole world opens itself up to possibility where there once were only tightly locked chamber doors.

This is my life right now, and I simply could not feel more blessed. The only problem lies in the cluttered messes that have resurrected in the lives of people around me. When you’re in the state of unending bliss, it isn’t always easy to come up with solutions for people that aren’t in the same neighborhood. I find myself wanting to wave the magic wand my hand seems to have latched onto, and POOF there lives right into the same worry-free lightness in which I now live. My heart is exploding with a love that is both unconquerable impenetrable. I want to bless everyone and everything around me. While I’ve been in love before, it’s never felt like this. And I know that no two loves feel the same, but I’ve never been in love without worry, without doubt, and without some ominous gut-feeling that something unknown is lurking in the shadows threatening its very existence. Yet now, without that worry, I find myself strong enough to try and save the world from drama, natural disasters, scary scorpions hiding in the dark shadows of my best friend’s bathroom…whatever! But I am helpless.

I absolutely know that I would not be where I am without Faith, but I want that same Faith to quickly rush in and save everyone around me before they give up on God. It’s frustrating to look around and wonder (very quietly) what more can go wrong in peoples’ lives. Can’t I just swoop in with a bowl of lucky charms, four leaf clovers, and rainbows, and promise them that every obstacle is just a stepping stone toward the direction they are meant to travel? Sometimes I do participate in talks with God and actually say, ‘Can’t you just give her an inch? You gave me a mile!’. What I’ve learned is exactly that. I asked for an inch and have been given a mile, or a thousand miles really. My only prayer at this point is gratitude for what I’ve been given, and a large pleading cry for help for those around me that are facing some of their darkest hours.

All I know for sure is that those darkest hours turn into the brightest sunrises. They always do in time. It’s just the waiting that makes us edgy, cranky, hopeless, and (let’s face it) human! God’s time is always right on time, sometimes we just have to wait for it.

Crocodile Tears

As I walked in from taking out the trash tonight, I heard a little cry from the top of the stairs. Though I couldn’t make out the words, I knew Ethan was upset. Climbing up the stairs, I gave myself the usual single-mommy pep talk/ prayer – Listen to his pain, feel his hurt, give it to God. This has become my own motto, and greatest relief since my own mother’s passing nearly 9 months ago.

As I reached the top, I noticed that not only was Ethan’s’ whining turning into a sob, but that there were the largest most gut-wrenching crocodile tears erupting from his baby blue eyes. His cheeks were apple red, and his forehead was all squinted as if he had been looking at the sun for too long. ‘What is it baby?’ I asked calmly. ‘I just can’t stop seeing dad’s face when he was walking back to the house. He was so sad. I miss my dad.’.

After a moment of much prayer and pause, I took his chin into my hands, looked him straight in the eye, and said ‘You are sad for daddy, and I understand that because you love daddy, and daddy loves you. You are about to get to spend more time with him this week. You enjoy each other & make each other happy. If daddy is sad tonight, let’s give it to God. God doesn’t want you to hurt because he loves you, just like mommy & daddy do. You don’t like it when mommy cries, do you? No. So, let’s just…give it to God’.

With that, Ethan reflected & took a moment for his own pause. Then, looking at me again, the forehead started to wrinkle once more. And once more, I said ‘Ethan, God wants for you to give him your problems so that he can fix them like a broken toy. If your heart’s broken, he can fix that too. God can do anything, right? Yes. So let’s give it to God so that we can be happy. That’s what God wants.’.

And somehow, that was as good as ‘hocus pocus’.

A huge smile stretched across his face like he had never had a care in the world, and he giggled himself off to sleep.

Amen. Namaste.

 

Image

Chasing Sunsets

As we were traveling west this evening, making our way home, Jason and I gasped at the sight of an amazing sunset. The sky was clear, except for a few brushstrokes, but the colors moved from an electric blue blanket to corrals and oranges so vibrant and exciting that it was hard to turn away and focus on the drive. With each hill and valley, the sunset revealed itself, and hid, only to return again with a different glow. We chased that sunset for miles, trying to find the perfect perspective to capture it in a picture. But it was elusive, and there were power lines, lights, and cars with which to contend. It became a frustrating adventure, that in the end grew to be more about the chase itself. And we both sighed and laughed at our behavior, knowing that we would never see that sunset again.

In retrospect, I appreciate the chase, savor the adventure, and will forever keep the memory of that picturesque sunset in my heart. Yes, it’s disappointing. But it’s also hopeful, because it existed, even if only for a brief moment.

In church this morning, I remember our priest quoting a verse, saying that our lives were but a blink of an eye. Sunsets are the same. Love is also a blink. Sometimes we can capture it, but usually we only get to experience it momentarily. If a love elludes us, it’s only because it wasn’t ours to keep. It wasn’t ours to capture.

There will be more. There will be more sunsets, more sunrises, more loves. And eventually, one will take. But it’s in the beauty of those loves that we chase and lose that we find our own unique painting – complete with brushstrokes, the right amount of light and happiness, and the understanding that we cannot keep the beauty for ourselves. At least not until it is ours to keep.

Faith is chasing sunsets, and understanding that finding the right perspective has everything to do with timing, and nothing to do with want.

Thoughts on Suicide

As we drove under the overpass where she jumped to her death, I could almost hear her thoughts.

There’s too much to overcome. It’s not worth it. There’s no way this pain will go away. Ever. This is the easiest hard way out I know, and it’s the only way to be sure that I won’t have to face these demons anymore.

So many deaths, so little understanding of what goes through their minds. I have personally known at least four people that have taken their own lives. This one is a girl I did not know. But it’s easy enough to get wrapped up in the wondering and the questions when her face and moments of her life are plastered all over Facebook for us all to see. Her life is quite literally flashing before our own eyes. There was no note, and no one offers an explanation as to why she felt that she could not go on. Maybe that knowledge alone is what she brought with her on that fateful and fatal night that she decided that giving up was all she could give.

My first experience with suicide was a good friend of mine back in the 6th grade. With his sick sense of humor in tact, he ironically took his life by ‘kicking a bucket’ and hanging himself from his bedroom ceiling. As we later discovered, Glen had a very violent and abusive childhood, and chose to end his life rather than to endure more disappointment and pain from those who were supposed to love and guide him.

The second was my 2nd cousin, who took her life after learning that her husband of 10 years had been having an affair for at least half of those years. And the third was a girl that had just become a close friend weeks before she shot herself. She was a freshman in high school, and she was being molested by her step-father who was a police officer. Her mom denied her daughter’s allegations, and Lisa gave up hope and ended her life cuddled with a teddy bear to silence the shot. The fourth suicide was within the last couple of months, when my friend Kelly shot himself on the side of the road. No one understands that. He was full of humor, smiles, and gratitude for his vocal talent and his children, who were his life.

I can honestly say that there have been many times in my life where I felt as though I could not go on, especially after my dad died when I was in sixth grade. I believe that what has always been a deal breaker for me regarding suicide is my faith. When I think of being created by God in his image, the last thing I truly want to do is destroy myself. Somehow, I think, that I would also be destroying some part of God. I also reflect on how everyone around me would be impacted by my sudden departure. That stops me in my tracks. And of course, as a mom, the thought has never taken any traction whatsoever. I cannot destroy my children, no matter what I face.

Suicide angers me. I have not walked in their shoes, but I have felt their pain in my own flesh and heart, and I know deep inside that there is always tomorrow. And while we are not promised anything in this life, we are promised that if we keep trying, eventually we will understand all the bad stuff. In the rear-view mirror, the bad stuff was only a fleeting sting – like a shot – and the good stuff eventually takes over, if only we give it time…..

Momentum Monotony

924

Chills in the air that only hot showers, long treadmill runs, and coffee can defrost, are more than I care to experience this winter. Of course, I shouldn’t complain. I live in East Tennessee, and our cold seasons would be considered balmy tropical fronts compared to Northern climates. Still, the older I get, and the more crotchety my bones grow, the less tolerance I muster in the season of bluster.

After 12 hours of Christmas shopping over the past weekend, and 200 Christmas cards mailed in the last few days, I am feeling a little more Grinch and a little less Tiny Tim than normal. I’ve almost given up my spirit of giving. My patience has become impatient, and Ethan’s elf-on-the-shelf has lost her creativity. In fact, she seems to have forgotten for several nights, that she’s supposed to travel up to Santa and return to our home in a new spot each morning for Ethan’s finding pleasure.

But the momentum of this Christmas adventure began with ambitious intentions. My mom and my mamaw were both Christmas nuts. I don’t mean the kind you eat or the kind found in holiday fruitcakes. They were fruitcakes, but that’s what made Christmas fun. Somehow, without both of them here to motivate me into frosty-rudolph celebration, I felt even more determined to do everything they did for the holidays; to make sure that my children had the same experiences I had as an excited and enthusiastic child. So now with 6 days left to go before Christmas, I am severely and sadly burned out. My twinkle has lots its sparkle, and my spritely spirit has lost its luster. But my favorite Christmas memory keeps me plugging along like the reindeer guiding Santa Claus’s sleigh, and I know that I can’t lose sight with that blinding glow of Rudolph’s red.

Many many years ago, my parents and I took a trip, as we traditionally did, up North to visit my grandparents. On our journey, we encountered a blizzard like I had never seen. I remember that the world was white, even though the night was dark. I couldn’t see my mittens or my boots for the creamy drifts that buried my seven-year-old self. The interstate closed, and we were forced to spend Christmas eve in a tiny little hotel room.

All I could think about was how would Santa ever find me there. My determined father hung one of his tube socks, white with two red stripes, from a shelf in our room. I left a couple of twinkies, and a cup of water, complete with a hand-written letter telling Santa exactly what I wanted. I remember lying there, waiting for sleep to carry me away, and wondering if this magical man would know that we were stranded, and that this was the best I could do.

To my surprise, when I awakened the next morning, I found every single gift I had asked for, along with a stuffed tube sock still hanging with bulging candy, oranges, and hairbows. I was ecstatic. Although we had no tree in that cold dark room, the spirit of Christmas filled the air, and overflowed into my little doubtful heart in a way that still moves me to this day. I still have no idea how they pulled it off, but it doesn’t matter. They did pull it off, and my faith in Christmas was restored.

My wish this Christmas is that my childrens’ faith is restored the same as mine was so long ago; that they understand that, while obstacles can and will try and crush our faith, miracles can and do happen. After a year of losing ‘grandma’, and missing out on summer travels and fun, their spirit of Christmas carries me through just as my parents’ spirit did on that stranded Christmas morning, and it was restored entirely in that crazy eighties tube sock.

 

 

 

 

Finding Bottom

“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner that keeps on trying.”  Nelson Mandela

What makes you try? What is it in you that lights your soul on fire and sparks your motivation when you’ve been knocked down time after time?

We’ve all known people who seem to take all of life’s punches with dignity, and keep getting back on their feet. Nothing stands in their way. Period. And just when you think they can take no more, they do.

There are two sides to this phenomenon, at least from my perspective. The first side is that you have to wonder, why must they have to keep overcoming obstacles? Why must some people face so much adversity, when others of us face so little? Where is the justice? Of course, that question comes from a very concrete and human place. When things aren’t neatly tied up with a pretty silver bow like Hollywood would have us believe, we become disgruntled. Things should make sense. Everyone, at some point, asks ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’. But good things also happen to bad people. So, while there is balance, it isn’t the kind of balance that makes logical and judicial sense. Quite simply, we believe that ‘good’ people shouldn’t be punished and ‘bad’ people shouldn’t be rewarded.

The key to understanding this is to not understand it at all, but to (in a sense) give it to God. There is a reason for everything. There is always a reason. If we’re drowning in the details of our mess, we never seem to notice that we can actually touch the bottom and stand if only we stop flailing around, out of control. It isn’t until long after we’ve recovered sometimes that we notice the bottom was there all along, and so was the security. Sometimes we need to get shaken up just to balance out. Yes. We’re like juice…shake before opening!

The other side to this is the resiliency of some people. This has everything to do with that first side, because it has to do with Faith. Have you ever been enraged by something that’s been ‘done to you’ only to realize minutes later that if you had been in their shoes, you may have reacted the same way? Self-awareness makes Faith an easier thing to grasp. But Faith also means understanding that, though you may not feel you deserve what you’re going through, there is a reason. Just like there’s a reason that you’ve been through everything you have before, and survived it.

When I was a Senior in high school, my least favorite english teacher gave us one of the most interesting assignments. She said for each of us to prepare a Valedictorian speech. I would’ve been the Valedictorian too, if it weren’t for the good grades part. But I remember it clearly. My theme was that ‘hope is survival, and survival is hope’. Even as a 17 year-old girl with terrible grades, no motivation, and no prom date, I grasped a bit of this Faith thing. I had survived the death of my father, countless broken hearts, a heaping helping of disappointments, and constellations of pimples, but I still managed to cry myself to sleep only to awaken the next day with hope and a smile.

While that was (sadly) 20 years ago, I’ve learned that my resilience pales in comparison to so many people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering. Yet, in each and every case, the one constant has been Faith. None of these people have been perfect, all have been sinners, but not one of them surrenders to adversity. Faith is contagious. Resiliency is the badge of Faith, but when it’s all said and done it’s the waking up that matters and builds strength. And realizing that you don’t have to hit bottom to know there is one, is reason enough to keep on trying.