‘Tis the Season (to Ramble)

Love Lost, Life Found, Grief Experienced

It’s been a rough 9 months for everyone – some much more than others. This Rona is no joke. The political division that has been caused by it has been devastating to so many and I don’t expect things to heal overnight. – Also, there has long been deep division caused by systemic racism, sexism and centuries of financial, as well as educational disparity in the United States that seems to have come out of the secret places, stepping out boldly, because we’ve spent the past 4 years being “led” by an old privileged white narcissist who supported all of that ugliness while bragging about grabbing women by the p*$$#. So, for many of us, it’s been a traumatizing 4 years, with the most recent 9 months being the most unbearable.

In my personal life it’s been a broken several years for me. Sometimes I’m amazed I’m still getting up in the morning and other times I mostly realize I can only get through the day because He’s got me. I also have so many things to be incredibly thankful for, and I am, but today I am sitting in the brokenness.

This typically happens to me about once year, but it feels like it’s been thrice already this year. I allow myself to grieve what is lost or broken. I have a little pity party with just my Pappa and me. He holds space for me to be my authentic self, in all of the humanness that I can muster and then He stands me back up again, and I am able to carry on in a confidence built on His faithfulness.

I am sad because my husband betrayed our marriage many years ago, and while we have worked hard to grow out of that sin and all of the ways we both contributed to that horrific anguish, there is a part of us that feels like our marriage will never fully recover. We have gotten much better in so many areas of our relationship and even in our own persons, but betrayal is not something you bounce back from. The wreckage is long-lasting and deeply embedded. Daily I must choose to make my marriage what it can be and not settle for what it is or give up on it and allow it to quietly die a death of complacency.

My oldest son and his wife are expecting their first child. I am beyond happy for them. He hasn’t allowed me to be in his life for several years because he thinks I took money from him – which is ludicrous if you know what kind of mama I’ve always been. I pray over the ultrasound picture every morning that they shared with us a while back. I am thankful that they shared their blessed news with us and even more grateful to be able to pray for their family each day, but I can’t help but wonder if he’ll choose to have me in their lives. Will I know my grandchild? Will my son remember who I am, what my character is, how devoted I’ve always been? Ultimately, I have resigned myself to rest in praying for them daily and trusting that Our Pappa God has all of us in His hand, but some days I am overcome by how easy it seems it was for my first born to cast me aside for something so not precious, how easy it seems it was for him to see me as so self-serving and greedy, when he saw how I lived my life always putting my children’s needs first, rarely buying things for myself (like most mamas) and certainly never stealing things from anyone. Yet, here we are and on days such as today, I am grieving. I am crying out, “Why did this happen?!” to My Pappa God, but I am also gently reminded that our relationship was co-dependant, there was so much brokenness in our family then and He is the God of restoration. It hardly ever looks the way I expect it to or think it should, but years of walking with a God who is abundantly faithful has made it possibly for me to (finally) trust that He will bring about a resolution that is better than any of us could ever imagine.

I miss my friends. I miss having a very best friend. I lost one of my closest friends just after my husband’s betrayal. It was gut-wrenching. She had been my friend since early elementary school. I was suicidal and she was the ONLY person I shared my humiliating news with. She promised she would fly out to see me in the following 2 weeks. I desperately needed her to hold my head above water as I had hers when she went through her journey with cancer and the loss of both of her parents in the two years before this. She called me just before she was supposed to fly out and told me that her husband refused to spend money on a plane ticket. She said they just couldn’t afford it. I was devastated, but I reassured her that I knew she had no choice and I wouldn’t want to be a financial burden on her marriage. Three days later, as I perused social media, there my “best” friend was in Cabo (or some tropical place) with several other friends on a girls’ trip. I had to borrow money to fly home for her mama’s funeral less than a year before this. It took me days to reconcile what I saw in those pictures and what she had said to me on the phone. I asked her several times to help me understand what she had done, for over 2 years after that. She mostly ignored me and then when I asked her in person, her response was, “I’m a shi$$# friend, okay? Let’s move on. Talking about this won’t change anything.” I spent a couple of years trying to put it behind me and then I began to realize how entitled and judgemental she had become, which helped me to finally walk away. Years too late, and I’m thankful I finally did, but losing one of your oldest friends with whom you’ve done so much life is heartbreaking, even when you know that your life is much better with that person no longer in it.

The thing is, these stories are oversimplified. I know that the brokenness was the result of layers of disfunction caused by years of not really getting to the issues at hand. Festering wounds not looked at closely in order to get to the deep infection, so that we could all maintain a false sense of peace and harmony until it all imploded. I know that because I used to think I had no real worth to others unless I was what they needed, that I operated out of that and eventually, my fears came to desolating reality. I allowed others to take me for granted because I didn’t believe they would choose me and then when I most needed them to choose me and even asked them to, they choose the other thing because this was our dance, the one I had been in step with all along, until I wasn’t.

This:

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is what finally changed my life. I lost SO MANY relationships because people just walked away and I stopped chasing them. We’re taught that when you finally take a stand for yourself, others will see your worth, value your relationship and you will all live happily ever after. I’m sure that on occasion that is the result, but in my life I have found that many of the people I loved just walked away, kept walking and are still walking in the other direction without a thought in their heads of me or my worth.

Amidst the carnage, I have emerged His beloved and bruised daughter who has done the hard work of counseling, inner healing, and walking the 12-steps, of having hard conversations and choosing healthier relationships, who does things for others now because I want to and because, after praying, I am reasonably sure He wants me to. I respect who I am and who I am growing into more than ever. I am open to my brokenness and strive to continue healing and growing into the daughter He calls me to be in Him.

I love my parents and I forgive them for how their brokenness and pride has hurt me. I pray that they forgive me for my brokenness and that they find Our Lord and choose to be His before they leave this Earth . I love my husband and I’m thankful that he daily chooses to walk this very difficult road of healing with me instead of taking the seemingly easier way out. I love my son and pray that one day he will remember my love and dedication for him. I pray that if he doesn’t choose to invite me back into his life that more than all else, he knows Our Pappa God and His love for him intimately and that he finds peace with himself. I love my friend and I’m working on forgiving her betrayal and even more her disregard for the pain of that and her response since has caused me. I pray she learns to love everyone as He does and that one day she will choose to live in peace with me.

I have wallowed in my self-pity while My Pappa has held me through my cries of anguish. Where would I be without His faithfulness? What would I do, truly?

If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for holding space for my grief and emotional rambling. I understand that this is an uncomfortable post to read. It’s hard to write and will be even more excruciating to actually publish. We are a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of culture. We aren’t supposed to openly acknowledge emotional trauma or pain, especially not with a self-pity kind of viewpoint. I know this well, because I was raised with an extra dose of stoicism. What I’ve come to believe since watching my family of origin implode, is if more of us would be forthcoming with the havoc that betrayal, abandonment and other relational brokenness can bring, perhaps those that come after us will choose better and live more healthy, honest lives that bring them peace. I’m thankful that I’m walking more in the identity My Pappa God calls me to after years of recovery and painful growth. I’m incredibly grateful that my three youngest children have not only witnessed my journey, but they have chosen to walk the steps, do the counseling, have the hard conversations and be accountable as they grow. Knowing they are figuring this out in their 20’s as opposed to 50’s like their mama, is the best gift I’ve ever received.
‘Tis the season…

Peace.

Serenity, Tranquility — Perspectives on Personal Fulfillment

More ‘Rona Ramblings

Last night (Good Friday), my Honey, our 3 youngest and I were gathered in front of the big screen watching Gateway’s Good Friday service online.  We had a bottle of sparkling grape juice and a fresh baguette for communion and our 14-month-old grandson, Arlo, was stumbling around the room being silly and spreading joy.  I was reminded of the meaning of “Good” Friday and the sacrifice Our Pappa God made for all of us.  Reminded of how enormous His love is for each and every one of us and what it must have been like for His devastated followers at the time, who didn’t have the luxury of knowing about the empty tomb, like we do.  When I get into that space, worship is so natural.  Adoration is only the beginning of what I am inspired to do for my Lord.

This year was exponentially different than years past, for all believers, I imagine.  I missed my church family immensely.  I look forward to my time with this precious group of sisters and brothers who share in my family’s struggles, joys, and everything in between, as we share in theirs.  I am the crazy lady with shoes off, hands raised singing at the top of my lungs in a dark corner at the back of the auditorium – and they love me just as I am.

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Typical Sunday at South (pre-rona). Photo credit: Ben Petree (thanks, Benny).

I long to empty myself out and fill up with Him during these times of musical worship, and though I’ve had private times of this at home and online times with my church these past weeks, it is a beautiful thing to gather with other followers to sing adoration to Our Father and I am longing for a return to this, knowing it will be something different and better because of the work He is doing during this season.

So, as I looked around at my beautiful husband, children and grandchild last night, I felt such gratefulness for all that I am blessed with.  The realization that we may all very well be back at church next Good Friday (God willing), gathered with our Gateway family, caused a bunch of feelings to well up and swirl around in my head and heart.  I missed our traditional church Good Friday gathering, but my family is typically all playing/singing/both at church – and not all at the same campuses, so I either attend multiple services at different campuses or go to one and feel guilty that I didn’t go to the other.  Most of the time I am sitting alone – or without the people who are related to me by blood because they are leading worship.  Don’t misunderstand, it’s this mama’s answer to prayer that her babies and Honey are serving this way, but I do, occasionally, miss the days of the row being filled with my Honey and our babies.  Last night, I got to sit in the middle of the whole bunch of them, while worshiping with music (pre-video-recorded of them!), taking communion and thanking my Pappa God for this rare moment.  I have no doubt that next year, I will be reminded of His faithfulness as I gather with my church family and be a little sad as I remember how precious Good Friday Rona 2020 was.

This evening we are going to celebrate my Honey – his bday was yesterday, but we decided that today was going to be all about him, sandwiched between Good Friday and Easter.  We’re getting wings from Pluckers and he’s choosing his favorite early release movie to watch at home – Have I mentioned movies are his love language?  I have some yummy hors d’oeuvres and Hannah will make him some popcorn (his favorite, that he only eats on very special  occasions).  Birthdays past were days filled with running to restaurants, movie theatres, and every social event available for my enneagram 7 Honey. This birthday is obviously very different, but he feels incredibly loved by the people he most loves, so last night as I looked over at him and saw tears in his eyes as he watched Caleb & Aaron “wrestling” with a giggling Arlo, I was again reminded that God is in all of this beautiful mess.

Bob Bday 2018

Tomorrow morning I will wake my children by telling them quietly that, “He is Risen,” as I have all of their lives.  (They think it’s cute to say it to me on Christmas, birthdays, etc., but I know deep down they look forward to it and they will do the same with their babies one day.  Okay, I hope they will.)  We will have baskets filled with a little less candy because there is less money to spend, but there will be a new basket because there is Arlo and that’s just more wonderful than just about anything.

 

We will gather together in our living room – with pre-recorded videotape of the 4 of them leading worship and I will be with my family, celebrating Our Risen Lord and all He blesses us with.  I will be reminded of how faithfully He walks through every season with each and every one of us.  I will not pretend that this isn’t a scary time and that we haven’t all suffered various losses through this time in history, but I will rejoice that I have a Pappa who knows what is to come and has never stopped working through all of this to make us more into the image He has for us.  I will never again have this kind of time with my Pappa, my husband, my children and my grandson.  We will all drive each other crazy, here and there, but I refuse to take this time for granted.  I will see it for the gift it is and thank Him for all of it.

Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

 

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I recently became a Nana for the first time.  My older, precious twin, Caleb, became a daddy in a less-than-traditional, but not terribly uncommon manner.  During the end of the pregnancy, before we knew with any certainty that He was related to us, we all experienced a gamut of emotions that were extremely difficult and exhausting.    

He was born a month early, under slightly scary circumstances.  (Did I mention that mama went into labor a full month early, on Caleb’s birthday?!)  Caleb decided that he wanted to be in the delivery room to support the baby’s mama and to witness his child’s birth with no regrets.  I remember when he asked me what he should do, I asked him if the baby turned out not to be his, could he recover emotionally.  He assured me he was fine. My mama’s heart wanted to help him make the right decision without emotions clouding things up, but that was just simply impossible.  Caleb was there when Charles was born and he even cut his son’s umbilical cord.  A few days after the birth, my son was informed that the paternity test would not be done until little Charles was six weeks old and the results typically take about six additional weeks to return.  This would mean that the baby would be around 3 months old before anyone would know who his daddy was.  The news was almost unbelievable to our family!  Waiting that long was not beneficial for anyone.

I’ve learned SO MUCH since this all began.  I found out that you can order a profesh paternity test online for about $120 or less and have the very reliable results in about 48 hours from the time the company receives it.  I learned that no matter how hard you try to stay neutral, when you are a 2 Mama and Nana, you are ALL IN as soon as you know that baby is your baby’s, in spite of your wise children doing their best to prevent your possible heartbreak.  I know the wonder of having another woman birth a clone of your baby.  I finally understand all the hype about how awesome it is to have grandchildren because you have all the fun with very little of the tedious day-to-day responsibilities.

Arlo looks SO much like his daddy – and quite a bit like his Auntie Hannah, as well.  Also, Arlo’s parents look like they could be related, so there’s that…  He was in the NICU for just over 2 weeks.  He was released from there the morning after we got the results that confirmed Caleb is his daddy…  interesting.  He and his mama then spent several days in the “Nesting” area of the hospital before they allowed them to go home, and she graciously welcomed this Nana and Papa for daily visits.  

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We received the paternity test results the day after Valentine’s.  Caleb came over so he and I could process together.  I prayed silently as he experienced the HUGENESS of the situation in every way imaginable.  He mourned the end of his carefree life.  He expressed deep shame and regret.  He questioned whether he could rise to this occasion.  He lashed out in anger.  He shut down.  He began to accept the responsibility of it all, and then, bit by bit, he gave in to the cresting dam of love he had been struggling to hold back in order to protect his heart, in case he wasn’t Arlo’s daddy.  At first it was just a little trickle of the acknowledgement of the wonder of it all, leaking out in the most beautiful and fragile way. I watched this grow into the new joy of fatherhood and all the possibilities that lie ahead.  I am humbled that I bore witness to this sacred moment in my son’s life.  I count it as one of the greatest gifts of my life.

Once he was on level ground, again, he showered and we headed up to the hospital to meet his son (my grandson!!!!).  This is when I got to witness another absolutely lovely and horrible moment in my son’s journey to fatherhood.  He walked in, worked his way around all of the cords and medical “stuff” so that he could pick up his baby and inform him that he was his father.  When about 20 minutes passed and it was time to change his diaper, Caleb told us that it was time for him to learn to do everything.  It was excruciating and glorious watching him almost drop Arlo while diligently and lovingly changing his little preemie diaper with three women looking on.  I could feel my son humbly saying with his heart, “I’m all in.  I’m your daddy.  I love you and I will do everything I can to make you feel loved and to make your life better.”  

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In the past almost 4 months I have watched my baby mature exponentially.  As soon as Arlo’s sweet mama had to return to her job, Caleb changed his schedule at work so that he could be with his son Monday through Wednesday each week.  He works double shifts Thursday – Saturday in order to do this.  He can change a diaper, swaddle and burp a little one with the best of them!  He can tell you, with amazing accuracy, what Arlo is crying about within seconds.  When they come over for dinner on Monday evenings, we all vie to hold him, feed him and diaper him to give Caleb support for our own selfish reasons, and I am always so proud of him for making it clear to everyone that he is the one responsible for his son’s care.  He doesn’t show up and step back while everyone takes care of Arlo.  He’s the kind of daddy I have prayed my sons would be.  I am proud of the way he has lovingly stepped up and fully embraced the responsibility of fatherhood in spite of the extra challenges it has brought into his life.  

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Lastly, I am thankful that he repeatedly forgives us for being so excited every time he  walks through the door with Arlo and we gush all over our sweet grandboy and treat him like an afterthought… 

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Honestly!!!  Can you blame us?!  Just look at that precious little face… 🧡

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