Dear Life…that’s how I’m starting every journal entry in the last little while. It seems appropriate since life and I need to have a talking to. Doesn’t life have a way of not turning out how you thought it would? It’s all part of the adventure…as long as we have the patience to view it as that (insert winky face).
I’ve had a few people ask me details of my story lately and I thought that it would be a good idea to write it out again. And considering there are some changes since I last posted, it’s probably a good idea.
Obviously life started way back when, out of the womb and into a beautiful Christian family…but “my story”, the one I feel like God shaped in order for me to help those around me, began when I was 21. Life doesn’t begin when you meet a man and fall in love (if only I could tell this to all young girls!), but in this case, this is where the story begins.
I met the man I would marry at a youth event. We had a great “meet-cute”, as the old gentleman told Kate Winslet in The Holiday. It was the middle of a very cold Canadian winter and the youth group was playing a version of Mission Impossible outside, snowsuits included. I caught a certain young man and was taking him to ‘jail’ and as we made our way though the snowy tails, we got lost. Neither of us seemed to mind because we were laughing to hard and teasing each other to much. The best part was that because of the snowsuits and hats, we didn’t even know what we looked like, it was just genuine fun and connection.
We left that event still not really knowing who each other was, but (and I guess I speak for myself here…) feeling chemistry and curiosity for each other. It wasn’t until months later that we met again and the strange thought of “I could marry this man” crossed my mind. And I did. One year and 20 days later, I was walking down the isle to meet my lobster (Friends reference, duh!).
Seems easy and lovely and happy-ever-after, but it wasn’t all a bed of roses even leading up to the wedding. There were a lot of red flags I should have seen and addressed, but being the good Christian girl that I was, I just assumed that because you’re dating, marriage comes next and that submission is going along with what the one you love wants. Oye. The lessons I have learned.
The biggest lesson I learned along the way was the importance of putting my relationship with the Lord first. Like. FIRST. It’s not going to come naturally, it’s not going to just be there, you have to make a genuine, stubborn effort to put God first in your life or your relationship, no matter how beautiful or strong or filled with twitterpation, will crumble.
Our marriage was great. We had our issues for sure, there were fights and broken chairs, slamming doors and shouted swears (man, the things you’ll say to the one you love the most!). But for the most part we got along well, learned to communicate with respect and made an effort to succeed…in our own way. But when God isn’t there, when you’re trying to find happiness and purpose in another human and other temporary interests, even the strongest of relationships can turn to dust.
One issue lead to another issue which lead to another issue…and I got to the end of my rope. I had been looking for happiness in all the wrong places and got to a point in life where I was depressed and overwhelmed and emotionally overburdened. I came back from a trip where I had been tempted to be with another man, and told my husband that I needed to leave. One week I made a trip to clear my head and was beginning the plans for my new life. Within one month I had packed my bags and had moved to another city.
And that’s only the beginning…
I lived the crazy life for the next two years, ignoring God’s constant voice to pick up my bible and spend time with him. I remember hearing his voice as clearly as if he was standing beside me but I rebelliously refused. I wanted freedom, I wanted excitement, I wanted happiness.
In these two years I partied, I swore like a trucker, I dated and slept around…I did whatever the heck I wanted to. And even though I was ‘happy’ and busy, I more often than naught, cried myself to sleep. There was a depth that this type of happiness wasn’t filling. As much as I genuinely believed that I was ‘happy’, something just wasn’t quite right.
Before I left my husband he asked me a question “When do you think you’ll start dating?” and I casually and unfeelingly answered “I don’t want to date, if it takes me two years to find someone, I’ll be happy with that.” (My heart breaks to know how painful that question would have been for him to even ask).
Almost two years to the day, I started dating a guy that fit my list of wants. He was tall, tattooed, a biker, a giant but a teddy-bear that treated me better than anyone had up to that point. We got quite serious fast and were even discussing rings. I was finally where I wanted to be! Until a trip to my hometown…
It was Easter and I went home to visit family and the one friend I had left. In a visit with this beautiful friend I told her about the special guy I was dating and after a while she casually asked “Katie, if your hubby ever wanted another chance, would you give it to him?”. I scoffed and shook my head, even as tears welled up in my eyes. I was confused, if I was happy, if I was over my husband, if I wouldn’t give him another chance, why was I holding back the tears?
My next stop that day was to surprise a long-lost friend at her work place. I obliviously overlooked the fact that I hadn’t seen this friend for two years and walked through the doors thinking that this would be a fun, care-free, surprise. The moment I saw her I burst into tears, almost uncontrollable sobs. That was my Damascus Moment. God almost literally ripped the scales from my eyes and revealed my sin to me in a way I thought only happened in biblical times. I could suddenly and very painfully see the hurt I had caused, the wrong I had done and the unhappiness I was in. I knew in an instant that I had to break up with my boyfriend and ask my husbands forgiveness. I had to do the unthinkable and ask for a second chance.
The next few days took some deep contemplation. Did I want to do this? Was I willing to put myself out there? Was this really something God wanted me to do? I have never been in so much heart-pain as that. God had shaken up the world I had created for myself and shown me his unrelenting Grace and Love and was, I believed, asking me to take a huge leap of faith.
So I did it. I wrote my husband a huge letter asking for forgiveness, asking for a chance to try again, and I waited. Waited for him to respond, waited for God to let me know what he wanted me to do next…I didn’t get a response from my ex, but I did have an email from his sister who I had been writing a bit, and she let me know that on the day I had send the email to my ex, he had proposed to his girlfriend.
I’m admittedly not good with most dates, but I believe that it’s been almost three years since this crazy moment in time. The moment where time stood still and I cried “God, I thought you had this?!”.
Life is an adventure though and through the last few years there’s been some amazing changes. God has built a fire in me for him that is better than I ever imagined. I see the importance of my relationship with him, and even though there’s been droughts and peaks and valleys in that area, I know it’s where I feed my soul and I continue to come back to it and push through.
I’ve learned that life is never what you think it will be, it never goes how you think it should, but if you keep your hands open instead of clenching them around your expectations, life is still beautiful even in the frustrating times.
For two years I lived, waiting for my husband to come back to me. I didn’t date, I spent my emotions on God instead of other men, and I saw miracles, changes, and amazing experience more than I ever thought was possible.
I decided after a while, and I’m not sure if this was prompted by a release from God or from my own frustration, that dating wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities, and I started seeing what options were out there. I can’t say that it was successful…no matter who I dated, no matter how much chemistry was there, there was always, without fail, something missing. A piece that didn’t seem to fit. And I can’t honestly say that I believe, from my experience in the now 5ish years of dating and trying to ‘move on’, it’s actually possible after a divorce.
I am so grateful that God decided to show me that miracles DO happen in modern times. So many people thought it was impossible for me to come back from the lifestyle that I was in, so many people had prayed for me to come home to my husband, so many had prayed that I would just smarten up my ways…and guess what! I did! It might not have been in the timing they wanted, it might have been to late to work on things with my ex, but the point is that they’re prayers were answered! I DID come back, I DID change my ways, God DID show me my errors.
Prayer is powerful! I know, I could literally feel when people were praying for me when I was being rebellious and it would make me angry. If you’re waiting for a miracle, wait. If you’re praying for drastic change, wait. You’ll see God move like you never expected!
If you’re being stubborn and ignoring God’s voice, if you know what he’s telling you to do and you don’t want to…just shut up and do it. God knows what our souls are crying for. He knows what we truly, deeply yearn for…you don’t. Your plans won’t turn out well at all without him, they’ll fail miserably and be a complete waste of time. So if he’s prompting you do make a change, to do something or to stop doing something, even if it doesn’t make sense, just do it. What’s the worst that can happen? Seriously.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know where I’m at in the dating part of life right now. I’m holding myself back when it comes to dating because I’m feeling as though God is asking me to focus on other areas of my life first. This part of my life has been hard, a learning curve to focus on the right areas in life even if I was dating. But I love my story, as hard as it has been to go through a divorce and try to work on restoring that relationship only to be rejected. It’s made me into the person I am now. But above that, it’s allowed me to feed into marriages on a level I wouldn’t have been able to hit before. I’ve had friends tell me that my experiences have saved their marriages and I’ve heard stories of people reading my blog and returning to their marriages…stories that have brought me to tears to think that my experiences, my little life, has been able to heal relationships…it’s mind blowing and so humbling. It makes all the pain worth it and I’m glad that what I’ve been through can help bring people closer together and closer to God.