It’s interesting. I saw a sweet older couple on the subway today, being cute little tourists in this big crazy city, and I heard myself say, “They made it.” I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there’s a huge story that only they know, and little old me can only see the present, and I have no idea what their story is that led up to today. But I still find my first thought being, “They made it.” And the sweet little old husband shows care for his sweet little old wife and it catches my eye. “They made it” is an endearing phrase in my thoughts and I find myself smiling for them. Do I yearn for this same care? You bet I do. Did I ever receive this care in my relationship? Yes, but rarely. So much so that I can barely remember receiving it. For the man I was married to had no idea how to give it; he only knew how to take it. Maybe I sound all grumpy by saying that. Meh. Maybe I am. Instead, I think I’m a little tender today as I saw yet another old couple who made it. They endured. They “look” as though they give and take, together, filling each other’s heart tanks. Someday that may happen for me. Someday. Who knows if or when. Until then I’ll continue to smile when I see some little old couple who made it, and I’ll be happy for them.
I had this feeling this morning that I was a branch that was about ready to snap. So much going on. So much has happened in the past few months to lead up to this breaking point, and so much unknown coming down the road. I felt like if I had one more thing added to my plate that I was going to snap in two. And I went into the bathroom at work and sat on the floor and melted into a puddle of tears. I know, I know – this whole divorce thing, transition to a new chapter, what-have-you, can make a person feel like they’re riding a roller coaster. I know this. But my goodness, the days when the tears hit and they keep flowing without stopping, are really hard and draining days, and I just want to go back to a day with sunshine. So while I was sitting in my puddle of tears, and I felt like I was a branch turning into a weak twig, something hit me… I am a branch, yes. But I am a branch sustained and supported by the One and only True Vine and a little bit of chapter 15 from the book of John came to mind. And I found myself saying, “God, if you would just reach down and give me Your strength, love, grace, mercy, courage, energy, care, focus… all that You are, and help me to rest in the absolute fact that You, the Vine, can sustain me beyond everything, I would be most grateful. And honestly, all of a sudden, the weakening twig that I had pictured in my head became a little stronger. The acknowledgement of my being pruned all for growth into a deeper understanding of my relationship with Jesus, made for a completely different picture at that moment compared to the one that I had when I first walked into the bathroom to melt into my puddle. So I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, said “thank You God” and marched along to a completely different beat of a drum. I feel enlightened. I know more roller coaster days will come, but I love the vivid picture Jesus gave me to see myself as the branch, resting in the True Vine, and I shall take that picture with me on those roller coaster days.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Sitting here this evening after receiving news today that my divorce is final. In one moment, the last two years of fighting and pain are over. In one moment, 21 years of marriage is over. Not sure how to feel. I’ll admit, my initial reaction was happy. The chapter is closed. I can move on. And then fast forward just a few minutes when I was sitting in my friend Elizabeth’s office, and as I sat there, the feeling like a ton of bricks hit me hard and the tears came. Sadness. I spent two decades of my life with a person who at one point in time I called my best friend. He made me laugh… but he also made me cry.
This chapter is closed and another one waits to be written. A new path awaits my footsteps. I was singing to Mathilda tonight as she was falling asleep and for the first time in 21 years, I actually felt alone. But it wasn’t a sad alone. It was this independent alone that felt strange. Something foreign. Alone and trekking along on a journey made by my own decisions. I don’t know if I can even articulate it well enough to make it make sense. Alone…. or maybe the word I’m looking for is…. free.
So onward I go. Tomorrow’s another day. A brand new day actually. The world will go on as if nothing has changed; I wouldn’t expect anything else. But me, a little bit of a hole is left in my heart as life as I have known it since I was 22 years old has completely changed. And I will know as I take each step forward that new challenges and amazing things are waiting for me as I take my sweet girl and we journey along.
The world lost a good man last night. Les Phipps, you were a gem. You had a very crazy, dry sense of humor that made many of us laugh. I have memories of you from my childhood that I will never forget and I’m glad you were a part of my life.
Tennis. What a sport. You taught me to love the game, and you even gave me my very first racquet when I was 14 years old… yes, I still have it. I have always held it dear, but now it means even more.
I write these words with tears because you are missed already. I look forward to meeting with you again someday on the other side of Heaven. My heart hurts for your dear Mary Lou, but I know she holds the same hope as I do. We will see you again.
You were a good man, Les Phipps. I am grateful to have known you.
It all happened in the course of one small year – January 4, 2016 to January 7, 2017. However, that one year and three days was the complete unraveling of my married life. Something that had actually been falling apart for years, but I never had the strength, or felt that I actually had the right, to do anything about. For you see, I was a good kid from the Midwest who grew up in church and once I got married, I was supposed to stay married. You don’t change the game and mess with the path you always thought was given to you.
And then it happened, we grew apart. We grew apart so much that someone else became more important to him, and I fell to the wayside. My heart was crushed, but I was supposed to stay married. That was my path. But there was something inside of me that said, “You don’t have to be treated like this. You’re worth fighting for.” And it was January 4, 2016, when I stood up for myself for the very first time and said, “I don’t know where you’ve been, but I’m not comfortable with her, and I won’t be pushed aside again for your career and definitely not for her.” The deep unraveling began.
I look back at the past 9 years that we’ve lived here in New York City, and I look back at the 6 years we lived in Ohio and I look back at the 5 years we lived in Michigan – I can see much clearer now. I gave up a lot for nothing in return. I gave up desires of my heart for nothing in return. I kept fighting and grasping, but was never given what I needed. Was I loved to the level that I needed to be? I don’t believe so, but my God I loved with everything I had; and again, for nothing in return. I gave my time and effort, I moved to new places and worked and gave up motherhood all for someone else; I never received what I needed or wanted in return.
January 7, 2017, after months of heart ache and tears and fear of tearing my daughter’s world apart, I said enough was enough. There was a new path that I needed to take, and after 20 years of being married to a man who really never had my best interest in mind, I made the decision to be done. I was done being pushed aside. I was done being told that my desires weren’t important. I was done enabling someone to be everything he wanted to be and not getting anything in return. I was done living with an empty heart; a heart that had been giving for literally decades all to be told that I didn’t matter enough. Done.
Onward to a new path. So new. So scary. So refreshing. So confusing. Who am I? Who am I supposed to be? Am I really the person I always thought I was? What’s out there for me? Who will cross my path and who will love me for me? Twenty years is a long time to be with one person, being comfortable in your own skin. Now it’s a new ballgame. New path. Although scary, my heart hasn’t felt this much joy in years – literally years. Happy. Oppression gone. Empowered to be… to just be.
Heard word today that a beloved woman from my childhood passed away last night after a fierce battle with cancer. Her name was Carol Forbes. I’ve known Carol since before I could remember. She played the piano for our church, taught my Sunday School class when I was in elementary, and introduced me to the amazing hymns of Fanny J. Crosby. My friend Marti posted beautiful thoughts about this woman, and so many people from my childhood have responded with their memories. It was a beautiful time of reflection with people from across the miles who had a common bond in that this one woman cared for each of these people in one way, shape or form at some point in their lives; be it childhood, teenage years, or adulthood. She invested a great amount of time and heart into peoples’ lives. What an amazing woman.
When I was 9 years old, I sang my first solo at church – Saviour Like a Shepherd Lead Us and Carol played the piano for me. Quite an appropriate song as she’s the one who taught so many of us kids to memorize Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul…..”
Carol was one of those women that invested time into peoples’ lives, and I know that when folks will gather around to say their good-byes in a few days, countless stories will be told by each person as to how Carol touched their lives. Countless stories. She was an amazing human being with a heart as big as the great outdoors, and had a love for her Saviour that was precious and contagious.
Carol, you were a huge part of my growing up days in church, and I thank you for the sweet role you played in my life. I saw you at mom and dad’s 50th anniversary party a few years ago. What a lovely reunion it was, for I hadn’t seen you in years. I hope I said thank you for everything; I fear I may not have because as a dear friend said so perfectly today – “she was just one of those people you took for granted would always be around.”
You’re with your Saviour now, completely whole. No more pain, no more sadness, no more tears. Your beloved Skip I’m sure misses you like crazy, but he knows he will see you again. For that is the hope that we all hold onto dearly. We will meet again, and what a lovely reunion that will be. Until then, I will cry tears with our friends here who love you and miss you very much. Rest in peace, sweet lady. Until Jesus returns, or calls us home….. you are in my heart, Mrs. Forbes.
Sitting here in my tent as the rain falls and it’s pitch black except for random waves of flashlights amid the campsites. I haven’t been camping in over a decade; the man I was married to didn’t like camping -it was my friends who I went camping with when I went rock climbing in Kentucky. I love camping. I love the freedom of just being out in the midst of non-organizational anything. Just gotta eat, play, sleep and be. I love that.
Bummed about the rain, but kind of love having the tap, tap, tap of the drops on my tent (please stay on and not come in) and just be free.
My friends gave me my own tent this weekend for privacy. My girl is with her dad this weekend. It’s going to be a quiet weekend of me and God and my friends. I look forward to tomorrow when I get to explore and think by myself.
A new journey has begun. First steps.