The Desert (Fiction)

06-03 desert landscape

I felt as if I’d been under the blistering sun for twenty-eight hours straight, but I knew that was impossible.  As far as I could see, stubby, brittle clumps of plant barely-life dotted the landscape.  Desperate for some cover, I crouched under a sage bush.  Well, it was more beside than under.  I heard rustling and saw dead leaves ripple away from me.  I told myself it was a lizard.  That was one of the least scary perpetrators.    Scorpions, rattlesnakes, centipedes, spiders-

A shadow gliding across the cracked dirt around me caught my eye and my attention turned away from things that slither and crawl.  I squinted my eyes and scanned the cloudless sky for the shadow’s owner.  Just then, he made another pass and swooped lower.  I know I must have imagined it, but I swore he slowed down and looked me in the eyes.  “I’m not dead yet!” I yelled, and threw a clump of dirt in his general direction.  It didn’t come close to hitting him, but the vulture seemed to accept my answer and ascended again.

I knew he’d be back.

I’d only been in the desert for a few days and I already decided Arizona was not a hospitable host in June.  My friends back home encouraged me to drive across the country.  My journey from Ohio to California was something like a tribute to feminist movement and a salute to independence of the fairer sex.  To my every protest, my friends had an answer.

“What if I get lost?”

“Then you take a road you wouldn’t have found otherwise.”

“What if my car breaks down?”

“Then you see someplace new while it’s being repaired.”

“What if I run out of money?”

“Then you discover that God provides.”

Yeah.  I wondered why God hadn’t provided a tree, or something taller than 3 feet for shade.  I wondered why God hadn’t produced a stream flowing with cool water.  I wondered why God hadn’t given me sense of direction so I didn’t get lost in the first place.  I drew my legs to my chest, rested my forehead on my knees and cried until I was too tired to cry anymore.  I may have napped, I’m not sure.

The rumble overhead was like a supernatural nudge on the shoulder.  I looked up to find the cloudless sky replaced by a thick wall of clouds that stretched from the southern horizon to almost overhead.  Nothing moved, yet the atmosphere surged with life.  The rumbling rolled around me with such emphasis that I was certain the ground vibrated beneath me.

That was all the warning I got before the downpour.  I didn’t try to avoid the wet, but instead, turned my face upward to soak it all in.  The rain came so heavy, it stung my skin as the fat drops pelted my face, but I was so dry and thirsty I didn’t want to shield myself from it.

Just as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped.

I looked around in awe.  The parched ground, now riddled with streams of water that had been unable to soak into the hardened soil.  Just when I thought the show was over, a brilliant rainbow stretched across the sky in front of me.

I was still lost and tired, but instead of anger and frustration, I felt peace.  The kind of peace that only happens when I realize God provided exactly what I needed, at just the right moment.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

I haven’t written fiction in I-don’t-know-how long.  This one came to me when I took a break from moving rocks to drainage areas in my yard.  (It is HOT, by the way!)  I noticed a shadow move across the driveway and disappear.  It was a hawk.  The bird did this several times before moving on.  It will soon be monsoon season (mid-June through mid-September) here in Arizona and monsoon storms can be breathtaking.  Unlike the dust storms, which are breathtaking because the inhaled dirt literally makes it hard to breathe 🙂  My thoughts have kind of been on being mindful of blessings, because this can sustain during periods when joy is effort.  (The “desert” times of life). Anyway, thanks for reading! This just goes to show, you never know what I’ll write 🙂

Should’ve Known Better

My stubbornness isn’t news to me.  I’ve often joked that, “stubbornness is associated with my astrological sign, but I refuse to believe it.”  But it’s only in hindsight I can really see how strong my stubbornness is.  Sometimes stubborn is good – it can mean perseverance in difficult times which leads to triumph.  It can also mean a refusal to see what should be obvious.

None of these last few posts have been easy to write, but this one literally kept me awake at night because I knew I needed to write it, but I don’t really want to.  It’s 3 am and after being awake since midnight, I gave in and fired up the computer.

Several years ago, an old friend from high school stumbled upon my writing blog.  It was a crazy coincidence and we emailed periodically.  Things changed a couple years later when I started writing about the end of my marriage.  In particular, a poem about the drinking caught his attention.  He admitted that he, too, had been an alcoholic. He revealed more about his life that happened in the 23 years we weren’t in contact and I admired his honesty.  As I struggled with the decision of whether to end my marriage or continue the lie, he encouraged me to seek God for the answer.  This was always a struggle because God hates divorce, however, my marriage was destroying what little was left of me.

It wasn’t until after I filed for divorce that my friend revealed that “he cared for me more than the world says he should.”  I didn’t know what that meant.  He told me that in high school, he always went to the fast food place I worked at to see me.  I just thought he liked cheap food – I really had no idea.  He told me that he always liked my hair and my smile and when I laughed, it made him happy.  He graduated a year before me and went into the Army.  We wrote for a while (he still had the letters) but then drifted apart.  My senior year, I wrote a poem about him that was published in the school district literary magazine.  It was about feeling more than I should for my friend.

He lived across the country but I saw him in 2015 when he came to visit his parents.  We met for lunch,  I had hoped that seeing him would put an end to the crazy attachment I had for him.  He mentioned several times he was overweight, or his shape was round.  My ex had gained a lot of weight and I found it “gross”, so I figured when I saw my friend’s appearance, I would get past what I thought I felt.

I didn’t.  I saw him for the first time in 25 years and he hugged me.  My world was crumbling around me, but when he hugged me, I felt like I would be okay.  I felt safe.  I’d never felt like that before and I knew I loved him.  He said he’d never forgotten me all those years, and had called my parents’ house when he filed for divorce in 2000, but he thought my dad said I’d passed away several years ago.  My dad mumbles so I think he might’ve said he gave me away several years ago.  It was like my childhood fantasies were coming true – I was beautiful to him and he would rescue me.

There were several problems though.  The biggest:  he was still married.  He didn’t get divorced in 2000.  He said there was no chance for his marriage and it was “empty”.  I told him to keep praying for his marriage because God can work miracles.  I stopped contact with him several times – I really wanted him to work on his marriage because it would spare me the guilt over my feelings.  That didn’t happen.

In 2016, he applied for a job in Arizona with his company and he got it.  He would live about two hours away from me.  We went hiking a few times and met for lunch, and he helped with some things around my house that I couldn’t do myself.  I was bothered that he said his marriage was done but his wife was still moving with their high-school-age son (their daughter had already moved out).  However, I could understand he wanted to be near his son.  I couldn’t imagine living across the country from my child.

Things went too far last summer.  His wife knew and contacted me.  I avoided her.  I had no explanation and I knew I was wrong.  I thought that would finally get things out in the open, and bring about some honesty, but no.  They didn’t talk about it and are still married today.

I stopped contact with him again in February of this year.  Then I got a mother’s day card in the mail from him.  I was hurt/angry/shocked.  I ripped it to shreds.  The next day, I emailed him (I deleted his contact info but I remembered his email address.)  I told him that if it was him, I didn’t know why he would do that.  He did admit to sending the card but didn’t sign his name because he didn’t know how I would take it.  He said the more he tried to talk himself out of sending it, the more he felt he needed to, and he hoped I enjoyed the card.

Oh, he had no idea!

I told him that I knew there was no future for us and I hoped that he realized the same so he could stop being stubborn and stupid, and work on his marriage.  I told him I felt like he played me, took advantage of my vulnerability, and used me.  He had nothing to say.

This has been a painful lesson, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience.  I’m accepting that there is no one on this earth that can/will rescue me.  That was a foolish, childish dream.  As much as I wanted to share my life and grow old with someone who truly loved me in the way God intended for love to be, I am letting go of this idea so I can be focused instead on what God has planned for me.

If there is a silver lining in all of this, I would say that it has broken my stubbornness.  By removing every crutch, eliminating all chances of denial and forcing me to evaluate myself honestly, I can finally stop hiding and can let go of all these things that have burdened me.

Oh, and of course my parents don’t know about any of this either. My mom likes to tell the story of how my grandpa (her dad) used to pick on me as a child and get me riled up to argue.  My mom asked why he did that, and he told her ‘because it’s a tough world out there.  If she’s too nice, she’ll never survive.”  I hear this story almost every time we talk.  I know she likes it because it helps her remember her dad fondly.  While I can appreciate the love behind his actions, I’ve grown to dislike this story because it reaffirms the deep feeling that I was never right and needed to be “fixed” or changed from the very beginning.  I love my parents and I think they did the best they could, but I think there will always be a distance because of the disconnect between the daughter they wanted and the daughter they have.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

At least I’m not alone – my kitties are the bright spot in my life, and I’m thankful for that!

05-29 Lizzy
They love me…
05-29 Skye
and make me laugh! 🙂

I’m A Christian…Does That Mean I Have To Be A Doormat?

03-11 Lizzy
To be walked on, or stepped over… that is the question…

In the month since my last post, life has continued to keep me busy.  My younger son ended up getting steroid shots in his TMJ (jaw) joints last week after his MRI showed active inflammation.  He’s still on a soft diet, and I’m still experimenting (sometimes successfully) with new meals that are easy to eat.  Funny thing is, he doesn’t complain about all the doctor’s appointments, he just accepts it as “what is.”

I could learn a lot from him.

This last month, I became a member of the church I’ve been going to for the last 3 and 1/2 years.  This was big for me, because I’ve never taken that step.  I’ve always stayed on the fringes, so I could come or go unnoticed.  I still don’t feel like I belong anywhere and keep to myself, but I’m praying that God will encourage me to be more outgoing.  I’ve sang with the church band on two Sundays and it was amazing.  I don’t feel self-conscious when I’m singing because it’s all about praise.  Now, standing there during the announcements, that’s a different story.  Awkward!

This last month has also been about me trying to show love as Jesus would, but I have to admit, I’ve fallen short.  If this were a marathon, I’d say I ran backwards!  I’m struggling with setting aside resentment and anger, and getting past the stubbornness that is surfacing because I’m tired of being a “doormat.”

Event 1:  My ex asked if my dad could get him discount tickets for a theme park in case he wanted to take the kids (this was after I got tickets so I could take them over spring break).  I was annoyed, but decided I would ask anyway.  My dad (reluctantly) agreed and I was encouraged that I did the “right” thing.  That feel-good moment was short-lived, and keeled over the instant the kids told me what happened last weekend: their dad’s girlfriend said (in front of them) that it was kind of weird he was inviting them (my kids) because the trip was supposed to be for them (and her 5-year-old son.)  I’m livid that 1) he didn’t say anything to reject that idea so now my kids feel a distant second, and 2) he apparently tricked  me into getting discount tickets when they weren’t intended for the kids.

Event 2: I have this friend who talks to me only when it is convenient.  If there are other things going on, or other stuff to to be done, I don’t hear anything.  I’ve always lent an ear, but resentment is creeping in, so I may not be listening much longer.

Event 3: My ex shifted schedules at the last minute on several occasions (most recently, backing out of taking my older son to the dentist and picking him up from school when I was in Phoenix for my younger son’s TMJ injections.)  He skipped out on the dentist appointment because he was too busy at work (I’m busy too!) and I was baffled by the picking him up at school because he said he would get him at my house – 5 minutes after school was out (so I’m not sure why I had to go pick him up after driving 170 miles that day). It almost seems like a control thing or a power play, but it irks me that he feels I’m at his beckon call.

Event 4: My son asked me to make 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a Boy Scout hike on Saturday.  I asked him if he was really hungry and he told me it was one sandwich for him, one for his brother and one for his dad.

Um, no.

I told him I wasn’t making a sandwich for his dad, he could make his own.  Then he said his dad told him to have a lunch for him (figures.)  Then my older son said I could just make 2 sandwiches and he’d give dad his sandwich.

No, again.

I made my younger son a lunch with roast beef (because it has additives that give his dad headaches so I knew it was safe.) My older son made a sorry-looking pb&j for his dad and packed different snack-type items for himself.

Event 5: On Friday, my ex lied to me (twice) in an attempt to manipulate a situation involving my older son.  I called him out on both lies, which he refused to acknowledge as lies and continued to be obstinate (nothing short of his way would be acceptable).  Of course, things weren’t resolved and I was left angry and frustrated- and disappointed that I ignored my therapist’s advice to not engage in his “baits” because “you can’t change stupid.”

These (and many more encounters) have left me wondering if being a Christian means I have to be a doormat.  Because honestly, I feel like I’m often taken advantage of, and I get resentful.

So I turned to scriptures.

Matthew 5:38-42- You have heard that it was aid, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6:27-29– But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Proverbs 25:21-22– If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

I think the fact I smiled at the “heap burning coals on his head” and imagined literally doing just that is a sign I have a loooong way to go 🙂

So, it seems the simple answer to my question posed in the title of this post is “yes” – unless I can change my perspective.

Some time ago, my younger son complained that life wasn’t fair.  I agreed and told him it wasn’t… when we look at it from an earthly point of view.  I added that I thought God sees things differently; that we are given certain struggles, afflictions and experiences so we can be greater testimonies for God’s grace and goodness.

My resentment and anger won’t change the “takers” in my life one bit.  My prayer today is that God will continue working in me so I can overcome my tendency to weigh the “fairness” of interactions.  I pray that He will soften my heart so I can not only accept these circumstances, but continue to show love as Jesus did, unrestrained and undeterred by perceived unfairness.

03-11 Roxy
May God give me the strength to love even if it means I could get stepped on

Have a beautiful Sunday!

 

Silence Isn’t Golden; It’s Yellow

2016-01-16-frozen-water6
Partially frozen rainwater… looks almost like a frosty mug of beer, haha

This post title is borrowed, but as soon as I heard the words, I embraced them as my own.  They are appropriate here because I see my last post was January 4 (good thing I don’t make New Years resolutions, because if writing were one of them I’d be a failure at this point!)

It’s not that I haven’t thought of writing- I have.  I may actually get around to doing some of those posts, if they feel right.  The point of this blog was for me to put conscious effort into finding “me.”  In a vacuum, that might be easy, but let’s face it, life isn’t easy.  Even though some days have been a blur, I am lucky to have a quiet evening to reflect on the last few weeks and that does tell me a little about who I am.

A couple weeks ago, my younger son turned 11.  I had taken him to dinner before then because his actual birthday fell during his time with his dad.  I was okay, I thought, until my ex’s girlfriend texted me pictures of her youngest son and my kids on the outing.  I didn’t realize his girlfriend and her son were going so it caught me off-guard.  The pictures kept coming – 23 in all and I ended up pausing my run to sit down on a curb and cry.

It wasn’t a delicate cry.  It was the ugly I-wish-I-had-a-tissue-but-I-don’t-so-my-shirt-sleeve-will-have-to-do kind of cry.  When I got home, I called my best friend (who doesn’t have children) but she put words to my pain.  It wasn’t that I was upset my ex is with someone else, it’s that she gets to experience memories of a milestone that I won’t have. So I was going to write a post about it titled “Learning to be okay with not being okay” but obviously, that didn’t happen.

Instead of writing a blog post, other words flowed in melodic form.  As I jotted them down and recorded them on my phone so I wouldn’t forget, a song emerged.  Over the next few days, the words kept coming and not only spoke to my deepest pain, but also offered hope, as it became a prayer to God, straight from my heart.  (I do have to also give credit to the pastor at the church I go to – a message in December about how we are prone to think we would be better if our situations were different stayed with me and I remember it when I’m discouraged by my circumstances.)

God.

The message the pastor delivered today included the words I used for this blog post title.  He said when it comes to the Good News, silence isn’t golden; it’s yellow.  That made me think of old westerns where cowards were ‘yellow bellied’.  I’ve been different shades of yellow my entire life.  Fear has had more power than faith.

That needs to change.  Fear isn’t a good reason for silence.  So, I’m taking the ultimate stand against silence by providing a link to listen to the “song” I wrote (and I’m going to publish this post immediately and sign off before I change my mind!)

I’ll end this post with the words to the chorus and look forward to writing again real soon!

Lord, help me remember your blessings;

not distracted and longing for things I do not need.

Lord, ease my fear and help me let go;

to be satisfied now, and trust the future you know.

If You’re Sensing a “Leave Me Alone” Vibe… It’s Not Me- It’s You

01-03-roxy
Head tucked, eyes covered = Do Not Disturb

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an uplifting experience as I began to carry out my younger son’s vision of helping the homeless.

As usually happens with my life, the “awwww, that was great moment” has turned into “awwww, what the &%$* happened??!”  Just like with my marriage, hindsight reveals exactly where I went wrong.  Yep, I know precisely why that feel-good train jumped the track and now I’m left pinned beneath a mountain of guilt, picking off the shards of good intentions stinging my skin.

Here’s what went down…

Nine days after meeting Lynn, I got a call.  They were cold, broke and needed to heat the tent I bought them.  Her husband had started work, but hadn’t gotten paid yet.  I went to them, my younger son came along since he was on winter break.  She said they had contacted churches in the area looking for a sleeping bag, but there weren’t any (I know, that was a hint… I sidestepped several along the way.)

Anyway, after buying enough propane to heat their tent for a few days, we ended up at Wal-Mart to get her a hat to keep her ears warm.  That turned into getting some hand warmers… then a sleeping bag… then a no-contract phone and a $45 one-month plan…vodka… a pack of cigarettes… and I don’t remember what else.  Afterwards, I drove them to their campsite and they showed us their tent.  I had already decided I wasn’t comfortable with how freely she asked for stuff.  As we left, she pulled me aside and asked if I would check pawn stores for an acoustic guitar she could give her husband for Christmas.

Yeah, that was it.  In that moment, the doors of the Bank of Me officially closed.

But wait, there’s more!  (My life is like a ridiculous late-night infomercial.)

Two days later, she left three “urgent” voice messages asking me to come get her.  They had stayed in a hotel the night before at $70 a night, they had to be out by 11am, they had no money and no one else to call. I didn’t call back, but did send her a text later in the day to let her know my aunt had passed away and I was dealing with family stuff so I couldn’t help her.  

A couple days later, another message.  This one, just asking about Christmas.   I sent a text back (with the photo I’d taken of her and her husband) and wished her a merry Christmas and joy in 2017.  I thought that was closure and the end of it because that picture was the only thing I promised her.

I was wrong.  I’m getting used to being wrong.

On New Year’s Eve, she sent a text asking how I was.  Again, I wished her a much better year in 2017.  She thanked me, said she was praying for me, and mentioned she was cold.  (Another hint).  She left three voice mail messages on Monday, which I did not respond to. The last one, at almost 11pm.  Then, she sent a text at 2am.  Then around lunchtime on Tuesday, she send a text asking how I was.  I finally responded several hours later that I was fine, but had a cold so I rested when I wasn’t working. I ended it with, “take care”.  She replied that she was praying for me and trying to stay warm (ah, yes, yet another hint.)

I know you’re probably wondering why I don’t just tell her to leave me alone (my best friend sure is!)  Simple… I don’t want to be mean.  I have compassion for her because her life is difficult at the moment.  I don’t wish anything bad to happen to her and truly hope things turn around in her life. It makes me sad if a stranger really is her only “go to”. My older son asked why I don’t just block her number.  Smart boy.  I’ve thought of that, but I won’t because I find human behavior fascinating, and I need to know how this plays out.

I can imagine what you must be thinking…. So you endure the harassment so you can “study” human nature?  That’s like dropping a brick on your foot to see what happens.  That’s twisted!

Yeah, it’s kind of messed up.  But, in my defense, I don’t hide the fact I’m not normal.  Not only do I find the not-so-subtle hints interesting (it’s less presumptuous to hint until someone offers rather than straight-out asking for something), I am curious about my own reactions and responses as well.

After 43 years, I know a few things about myself. Like, I will give up something so someone else doesn’t have to. Although life isn’t fair, I do my best to be fair.  I will befriend someone that no one else will, because everyone should have a friend (that has bitten me in the behind more than once.)  Often I do things I don’t want to because I’d rather take on something rather than burden someone else.

Do you see a trend here?

I do.  And I know what happens…eventually: my toilet gets full and I have to flush it. (Ironically enough, that statement came from my ex, when talking about his mother… that’s another story for another time!)

I’m realizing that like flowers attract bees, giving invites takers.  I need to know that I can be be assertive enough to communicate “I’m done” if I feel used and my hints continue to be ignored.  I must find out if I can abide by my gut feeling that she’s trying to take advantage of my kindness and not cave to guilt (because I have a roof over my head).

Most of all, I have to know that I can deliver a kind but firm “no” and not apologize for it instead of allowing myself to be a dumping ground. 

This experience has changed me in ways I didn’t anticipate, but that seems to be how God teaches.  I will continue to keep my heart and eyes open to help those in need.  However, in the future, my name will be fictitious.  And, under no circumstances, will I provide my phone number (or that of any former friends).

I may not be normal, but I’m not completely stupid, either!

Homeless Encounter

I mentioned last week that my younger son helped me pack several bags for the homeless.  Sunday, after church, I found my first opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.  I had my window rolled down and the two women sitting on the curb waved and said “God bless you”.  I smiled and waved before pulling into traffic.

I made the first right turn I could and parked nearby.  The women stared at me as I approached them carrying two of the bags.  I explained how my son helped me pack them and wanted to give them away.  They were excited about the plush throws because a cold front is coming in by the end of the week.

I talked to Lynn for a little bit and asked what kinds of things she needed.  She told me they needed a tent because someone stole their travel trailer.  I wished them well and drove home.  As I put my groceries away in my comfortably heated home I wondered why I didn’t offer to buy a tent.  I sat down and prayed and waited.

Then I drove back to the store.  I felt a little awkward as I approached and said, “I think I’m supposed to buy you a tent.  Would you like to show me which tent you were looking at?”  Her husband, Dwayne, stammered a bit and seemed reluctant, but then asked Lynn if she wanted to go.

While in the store, I picked up a few other things for her.  While in the check out line she said she hadn’t been able to wash her hair for a month.  It did look a bit… worn.  On the way out, I told her I thought we should get her hair washed and styled.  She was so excited.

12-11-lynn
Smiling is a side effect of clean hair…

It was hard to see someone so excited about getting her hair washed.  I do that at least several times a week without giving a second thought.  As we waited for a stylist, we talked.  She has had a difficult life and some poor choices.  Not unlike me, except by God’s grace, I have not been homeless.  I suspect some of her choices may have involved drugs, but I didn’t ask.  Again, by God’s grace, I haven’t been plagued by addiction.

I took a picture of Lynn, us together, and her with her husband.  I gave her my phone number and told her to let me know when she got a phone and I would send her the pictures.  Her husband starts a new job on Thursday and I’m praying that things start looking up for them.

I have four more bags put together right now and I pray that God keeps my eyes and heart open.   I’m excited to see how the next encounter changes me.

In The Beginning…

Last week I wrote about prayers and blessings.  Now I want to go back and fill in some of the history because the past is so important to understanding the significance of today.  I’m sure it will take several posts for me to write through this journey, but it’s something I think I need to do in order to get to a point where I can forgive myself.

12-11-wyoming-sunset

I met my ex in 1995.  I had my sights on earning my bachelors degree the next year and waiting tables on the days I wasn’t at the university paid the bills.  My ex was five years older than me and the manager of the restaurant.  I think I found that most attractive about him- he had his life together (I thought.)  See, I had a boyfriend at the time and his life consisted of a lot of dreaming, but not much doing.  He had many ideas of what he wanted to do when he grew up.  Instead, he drank too much (like his father) and struggled to manage his finances.  I tried to help him, even helping him pay rent on several occasions.  At this point in 1995, I was simply waiting for him to break up with me.  Early in our relationship, he mentioned that every girl he dated broke up with him so I decided to give him the opportunity to do the leaving- but he wouldn’t do it, so I finally did.  (Things were so bad that when I invited him over the night I ended the relationship, he brought a book to read!)

Newly single, I began dating my ex-husband.  I was certain I found “the one” and nothing (or no one) could have convinced me otherwise.  I should have taken a step back and asked questions when the assistant manager asked me if I’d met his mother and when I said no, she laughed as she walked away.  I should have been skeptical when I started to see that reality didn’t track with the illusion (he owned a boat, leased a brand new truck, but still owed several thousand dollars on a credit card, including repairs on a vehicle he didn’t have anymore, and he lived with his mother.  Although, in my defense, he told me that he had just moved in with her to help her after surgery.  I thought that was sweet). I should have ran and not looked back when after a couple months together, he fought with my parents and called my mom a b**ch.  I should have thanked my best friend when she held me against my will before my wedding and tried to convince me I was making a huge mistake.  Instead, I ended the friendship.  I should have seen that the night he drank too much and didn’t remember driving home or leaving the unintelligible message on my answering machine wasn’t a one-off thing. I shouldn’t have written off a co-worker, Bonnie, when she asked if my fiance was a Christian. I said I didn’t know and she told me it should be the first thing I ask.

That conversation still haunts me.  Now, some people might think I’m crazy (maybe I am) but I believe Bonnie’s question was a warning from God; a final opportunity for me to wake up and see that it was all wrong.  I had grown up going to church with my grandparents, and on my last blog, I wrote about another instance where I believe God used a person to intervene in my life.  It was when my grandma talked about suicide and that it was God’s choice when we left this earth and not ours.  I was 15 and had been contemplating suicide for months.

During high school and college, I didn’t go to church and I honestly didn’t think much about God.  I mean, I always believed in the existence of God, but didn’t seek Him in my daily life (only when things were so messed up I didn’t know what else to do.)  I worked on Sundays because they were always busy with people going out to eat after church.  I distanced myself even more from religion and God as I saw the hypocrites  dressed in their fancy church clothes come into the restaurant and act like complete jerks.  Apparently kindness and showing love toward others got lost somewhere between the church sanctuary and rest of the world.  I still remember this man who was very rude and demeaning to me.  His wife tried to tell him he was being mean and his response was “she’s just a waitress.”  I wanted nothing to do with that.

Years later, I began to change.  I felt a vague sense of longing for something and decided to go to church again.

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I’ll stop here for now.  I have no idea what I will write next or how these posts will go, but will do one a week, probably on Sunday (I have a lot of buried stuff and digging is painful… I cried while writing this… but I think I have to unpack it all to truly let go.)  When I sat down to write this one, I planned start at the beginning of the divorce- nearly 2 years ago. I know one person was interested in learning more about my ex-mother-in-law… I will get there!  Just know, you’ve been in my thoughts and prayers.