Life Lesson #6: When Life Gives You A Do-Over, Take It!


“Hard is trying to rebuild yourself, piece by piece, with no instruction book, and no clue as to where all the important bits are supposed to go.”  — Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down

“It’s humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage. But it can be reinvigorating. You just have to put your ego on a shelf & tell it to be quiet.”  — Jennifer Ritchie Payette

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Campbell

It has been a year of change.  No doubt about that.  Hopefully, the dust will now start to settle, and life will get a little more even-keeled.  A little over a year ago, my divorce was finalized.  In the divorce decree it was determined that my ex-husband and I would need to sell our home, and I would have to find a new place to live.  It’s interesting how we can become so attached to things … things that, over time, really don’t mean anything.

I was not looking forward to moving.  I liked my house.  I liked my neighborhood.  Mostly, I was not looking forward to going through the mounds of STUFF that my ex-husband and I had accumulated over our almost 22 years of marriage.  The thought of weeding through boxes of paperwork and unforgotten items buried in the corners of the garage exhausted me even before I began the onerous task.

When the offer came on the last day of February from a buyer who was adamant about moving in on April 1, I was not amused.  Whereas I was extremely grateful that we had an offer, I was in the middle of the busiest season of the year.  In addition to working full-time, I am a part-time organist at my church, and we were in the middle of Lent.  Not only did I have quite a few additional church services to play for, but I had also taken over as choir accompanist, since our other organist had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few days before Christmas.  Asking me to move out of a 3,500 square foot home in one month was like asking an accountant to move on April 14.  It was a highly stressful time.  To top it all off, the place I was moving to–a townhome under construction–was not going to be finished for another two months.  I was temporarily displaced and living out of a suitcase with my parents.

Two days after moving into my new townhome, I had to fly out East to attend my son’s high school graduation and move him back home to live with me.  While I was away, my two daughters had to fend for themselves attempting to find things that no one had a clue as to there whereabouts.  It took me weeks after I got back to even find my pots and pans so, needless to say, we ate out a lot.  Definitely not good for an already stretched budget.

We survived and are just now getting more fully settled in.  We’ve made room in the garage for at least one car!

As if that weren’t enough stress on my plate, I decided to apply for a different job … a lateral move within my company … but I thought, “What the heck … new year, new life, new townhome, why not a new job?  I’ll make it a complete do-over!”  So, in a few weeks, I am about to embark on a new adventure with the hope of learning some new skills that will make me more marketable.  I am hoping within the next year to go back to school for my Master’s.  I am hoping to reconnect with my creative and less-stressed self from my pre-marriage days.

God has graced me with a do-over on multiple levels.  I could have chosen to ignore the nudges He gave me.  I could have chosen to accept some and decline others, but some of the circumstances surrounding the changes were too obvious to miss.  My new job, for example … it was as if God was flashing a big neon sign in front of my face with a huge, flashing, boldly outlined arrow pointing, “Go here!”  (Pretty hard to miss nudges like that one.)

For someone who likes all of her ducks in a row before taking on new things, those of you who have read my earlier posts know that if there is one thing that God has taught me over the years, it’s that He won’t show me the next step on my path until I take the one He currently places in front of me.  Therefore, I have no idea where these new changes will take me, but I do know I am on the right path.  Until He shows me the next step, I’m going to enjoy where I am at.  I need not fret.  I need not worry.  I’m where I’m supposed to be at this moment in time, and God knows where the next stop on my journey is going to land me.

Embracing life (at the moment) …

Lori Lynn

Dear LORD … thank You for new beginnings.  Thank You for giving me glimpses into my past and future seeing how You so beautifully weave past experiences and future opportunities together into a seamless masterpiece.  Continue to point out Your plans for my life by presenting me with opportunities too obvious to miss. (Those flashing arrows sure are helpful!)  In Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen.

 

 

 

Life Lesson #1 (Updated): Deal with Your Stuff


“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. — Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

{I originally wrote this post in January 2012. It has been rewritten a bit, as events in my life have changed, but the life lesson is still the same (and more important than ever for me to share).}

It’s very difficult when writing a blog to know just how much to share with your readers.  As a writer, I want to touch my readers’ hearts.  I want them to read what I write and say, “Oh my gosh.  I know exactly what she’s talking about!”, or “I SO get where she’s coming from.”  At the same time, I don’t want to share so much that it portrays people in my life in a bad light; because there are two sides to every story, and you are really only hearing mine.  Suffice it to say, because of poor choices I have made in the past, my life has not exactly gone the way I had hoped; but I am hopeful that some of my mistakes can be used for good in teaching others not to do what I did.

Lesson #1:  Do NOT marry someone until you have dealt with your “stuff.”

When I married my husband, I knew I did not love him.  I did know he was a good Christian man, and he had a good heart; and I truly believed that God would help me grow to love him in time.  I was 28 years old, desperately wanted to be a wife and mother, and felt the biological clock ticking.  I had just come out of a four-year off-again-on-again relationship with a man whom I loved more than anything but who had no intention of marrying me anytime soon because of family pressure on his side.  It was actually this man who sat in church with me one day, looked out over the congregation, saw my future husband in one of the front rows, pointed and said, “You should go out with that guy.”  My initial reaction was, “Oh my gosh.  No way.  He is SO not my type!”  (Now I realize that many of you highly-intelligent readers will be asking, “Why did you go out with this guy for four years when he is telling you to go out with other people?”)  Can I just say, “It’s what insecure people do.”  It’s also what led me to marry my husband.

Which brings me back to dealing with our stuff…

We can drag an awful lot of baggage, which we aren’t even aware of, into our marriages.  Are you familiar with any of these:

  • Insecurity
  • Low self-esteem/unworthiness
  • Unresolved relationship issues
  • Poverty (lack of money or love)
  • Emotional/physical/verbal abuse
  • Codependency
  • Anger
  • Mental health issues

If you haven’t dealt with them BEFORE you tie the knot, trust me when I say that you WILL deal with them at some point after.  All of the baggage mentioned above comes with a bountiful set of emotions.  Emotions get triggered in our brains from the darnedest things…  a sound, a smell, a touch, a look, a word, etc.  You may think that you can suppress emotions, but they can only be suppressed for so long.  Emotions are alive, so suppressing them is like burying something alive.  They will eventually erupt and find their way out; and when they do, it isn’t pretty!

I was married for almost 22 years.  I can honestly say, it was a struggle from Day 1.  On my wedding night, I was crying because I had a new last name.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I had every intention of changing my name when I got married.  It wasn’t having a new last name that was the problem; it had everything to do with thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go back.  I’ve made a horrible mistake.  This is not what I wanted.”  I don’t come from a belief system that says, “Get married today and divorced tomorrow.”  I had made a covenant before God.  This was serious business.  For what it’s worth, my husband was probably feeling the same way.  All of the sudden he was faced with a hysterical wife who was not at all like the woman he thought he had married.

In retrospect, I think I was more in love with the IDEA of getting married (the ring, the dress, the flowers, walking down the aisle) than I was with the man I had agreed to marry.  Also, in my insecurity, I didn’t believe anyone else would ever ask me to marry him.  My husband did; therefore, I thought I better jump at the opportunity.

I had had similar feelings (that I was making a mistake) the morning of my wedding but had brushed them off as wedding-day jitters.  At that point, I remember thinking, “I can’t back out now.  Everyone has flown out here for the wedding.  My parents have put a lot of expense into this.”

Both of us lamented the fact that we did not have premarital counseling before our wedding day.  We were supposed to have it.  We even went to our first session; unfortunately, right in the middle of it, our pastor got an emergency phone call and had to end the session.  We somehow never rescheduled.  I think the pastor thought, “These are two mature individuals who obviously love each other, both from good Lutheran stock, so they will be fine.”  (Of course, I have no idea what he was actually thinking.  Pre-marriage counseling for us may have just slipped his mind.)  I do think, though, that many of the conflicts we struggled with over the years would have surfaced in those counseling sessions, and we could have been spared quite a bit of the heartache we experienced (or at least been a little bit more prepared for it).

So, how did we stay married so long?  In this Married-Today-Divorced-Tomorrow Age, I’d like to think it was because neither one of us could come to terms with breaking the covenant we made before our God; and we were both too stubborn to give up.  In reality, it isn’t because of anything WE were thinking or doing.  The truth is that God was the third strand in our cord; and whereas our two strands would have broken early on, His continued holding on.  There was a purpose to all we went through.  Just as an ugly jagged-edged rock can be put into a tumbler and bounced all over for days on end and come out a beautiful gem, our marriage tossed us around enough to remove the jagged edges off of us whereby (hopefully) we can take our mistakes and use them to instruct others.  It means that all of the junk our children were forced to wade through was strengthening them and building them up for service to others.  They will have a sense of compassion and empathy from having “been there” that will give them remarkable insight in helping others through the maze.  I have also come to realize that divorce does not separate us from our stuff.  If not dealt with, our stuff follows us into any relationship we enter into.

Maybe you are in a similar place.  Maybe you’re about to get married and you realize you’re not getting married for the right reasons.  Maybe you’re already married, were lucky enough to have been in love when you walked down the aisle, but now find you have drifted apart.  Maybe you’re struggling with a wayward or mentally-ill child, and it is wreaking havoc in your marriage.  (I have a daughter who is ADHD/NLD/and borderline Asperger’s.  Trust me when I say I KNOW the havoc mental health issues inflict on a marriage.)  Maybe you are a single person who feels the only way you can be loved is to sleep with every person who asks you to with the hope that maybe one of them will propose.  Maybe you are the child of an alcoholic who has become a workaholic to compensate for the love you never got, and you’ve reached the point where you realize you’ve accumulated a lot of things but you have no one to pass them on to.

We all have issues.  We all struggle.  But there is hope.  We CAN deal with our stuff before it deals with us.  We CAN break the cycle that we’re in … be it codependency, verbal abuse, anger.  We CAN stop it.  It isn’t easy.  It means making some tough decisions (for me, it meant filing for divorce after 20+ years), but remember that it is for your good and the good of those who come after you (my children have told me filing for divorce was the right thing to do).  Dare to be the difference in your future child (or grandchild’s life).  Dare to be the one who breaks the chain.  And remember… the best thing you can do is to deal with it BEFORE you get married!

Saved by Grace …

Lori Lynn

Dear Lord… Thank you for being the third strand in the frayed and broken cord now binding me and my children.  Without you, we would have been done a long time ago.  Continue to show us in a myriad of ways that You have a purpose in all that we have gone through and give us the strength to continue holding on until beauty shines through.  Give us the courage to change what we know needs to be changed, and help us to grow to be more like You.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Author’s note: Please know that I am in no way advocating divorce. I am not encouraging it, nor am I condoning it; but it happens.

Although I filed for divorce, I still believe it is wrong; and I will be held accountable when I go before my Father in heaven. But I am convinced that God knows my heart, and He knows why I filed. He knows my ultimate goal is to live for His glory and to show others that our sinfulness does not have to keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives… oftentimes He uses our mess-ups to connect us to people in ways we never thought possible. We all sin and fall short.  May He grace you today as He has graced me…

Soar Like An Eagle


“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.” — Isaiah 40:31 [ESV]

 

Every time I think I’ve made the decision to stay in my marriage, I discover the “well goes dry.”  My writing stops, I have no creative juices flowing, and I feel as though God is silent.  So I wonder, at times, if the following is true:  Is God silent, because I’m not listening and being obedient to what He is telling me to do?

For instance, take the following:

God speaks to my heart letting me know divorce is the plan.  In “good” moments, I picture it in a positive way…  My husband and I communicate well with each other, he marries someone else and is happy; I write and help people, possibly marry, and am happy; the kids’ stress dissolves over time, they adapt, and they’re happy.  In “bad” moments, I picture it in a negative way… I blame my husband for things; I wind up penniless and living off the street, unable to work and emotionally/physically drained; the kids spiral into depression and unhealthy behaviors; and we all self-destruct.  (I’m a very black and white thinker.  Can you tell?)

I feel in my gut… in my heart… the thought of divorce, and I believe God is leading me down that road; but I always stop just short of following through, because I think, “That can’t be God.  God wouldn’t tell me that.  God HATES divorce.”  But here is what God is also unveiling… yes, He hates divorce, but He also hates sin.  Hating someone is sin.  Pretending to be someone I’m not is sin.  Not acting in a loving way is sin.  Staying in my marriage may be just as sinful as divorce.

Writing these things down makes me feel foolish… like perhaps I am trying to twist things in order to condone divorce as a viable option.  I don’t think that’s what I’m trying to do, but I do think Satan tries to mess with our minds.  So, I pray for God’s direction in following the right path… the one He has prepared for me… the one He predestined me to go down.

When I think I should stay in my marriage for my kids’ sake, I realize that I will need to find other (healthy) ways to get my needs met.  I resign myself to thinking my life will be tolerable at best, miserable at worst.  I’m not sure I can do miserable again.  I don’t for one minute believe that’s what God wants for me either.  God wants me to soar like an eagle… to write for His glory… to show others that no, divorce is not right, but neither is marrying out of insecurity.  We all make mistakes, but we don’t need to let those mistakes define who we are.  We can learn from them and use them to help others.

I came across a beautiful saying today that so accurately describes what I believe I struggle with so much lately…

If you doubt your ability to make a life-altering decision, to take on a daring aspiration, or to fend for yourself after many years, consider this:  surely, if a bird with healthy wings is locked in a cage long enough, she will doubt her ability to fly.   — Sandra King

I want out of the cage.  The cage may be my marriage or it could be something I have put around myself.  I have folded my wings beneath me, found a safe spot on the floor, and resigned myself to being there; but I hate the cage now, and I long to be free.  I long for a gentle soul to open the cage, coax me out, and patiently teach me how to once again find my wings and fly… only this time, I don’t want to flap my wings in exhaustion; I want to find the thermals (of God’s plan for my life) and soar like an eagle.

Interestingly, when I was researching the verse from Isaiah at the top of this blog spot, I learned that the Hebrew word for “wait for” means to bind (twist) together.  That means, if I twist myself together with God (immersing myself in His Word and spending quiet time meditating on what He is saying), I will gain new strength.  Eagles, when they fly, conserve energy by looking for thermals of air to glide in and out of so they don’t have to waste energy flapping their wings.  I want to live like that!

Looking for thermals…

Lori Lynn

LORD… we can’t rise up and soar like an eagle if we are bogged down with the weight of insecurity.  Teach us to bind ourselves together with You, gain new strength, and soar in the freedom Your Son died to give us.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.