The pained whisper

About a month ago I had a dream. I was in a house, and there was a demon there. I knew it was there, I could feel the presence of it, and I knew it had an awareness of me also. I dreamed of being in the rooms of that house, and I would try to walk out of a room, and as I went to push a door open, I would feel it pushing back. Trying to keep me from getting the door all the way open and leaving the room. I would push harder and the resistance on the other side would grow stronger. Then I would suddenly skip ahead and find myself in a hallway, and would come across a door, and when I would try to open a door to enter a room, the demon again would pull from the other side, trying to keep me from entering. Again and again I would find myself in this tug of war at every door. Trying to enter a room that I couldn’t get in, or trying to exit a room that I couldn’t get out of. Until I finally found myself walking into a kitchen/ living area. And I saw Jeff standing there. And then suddenly, the demon was in him. He is coming at me. Swinging for me. Trying to get to me so he can put his hands around my throat. He wants to hurt me and he wants to use Jeff to do it. I know what I need to do. I just have to tell the demon that he doesn’t belong here. That he’s not welcome here. I have to tell him that he can’t have Jeff. I know exactly what to do. I know I have the authority. And so I try to speak. I have the words. But my throat feels like it’s closing up. The strength I’m using to push the words out should be creating a loud shout, but I can barely push them out. I am straining so hard to make the noise come out that it literally causes me physical pain. There is definitely a little trepidation in me, for I know the seriousness of facing this demon. But there’s a boldness within me that pushes back that fear, and pushes me to fight. I dig deep and try to pull as much strength and authority as I can muster into my voice as I try to speak. But all that I hear coming from my mouth is barely more than a hoarse whisper.

“You can’t be here. You can’t have him. Get out. You’re not allowed to harm me. You leave in the name of Jesus! Go and don’t come back. You’re not welcome here. Get out. Get out. In the name of Jesus, GET OUT!!!”

Over and over I try to speak the words. Sometimes managing to barely make the sounds, and sometimes only able to push out the air as I mouth the words.

But I keep trying. I keep fighting that demon. Wishing I could get the strong shout of rebuke that I have within me to come out as more than a whisper. Fighting off the fear that maybe I don’t have as much authority over him as I had believed. Beginning to wonder why my shout keeps coming out as a strained, painful whisper. But even still, refusing to back down. Grasping hold of the promise that no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Holding tight to the hope that my voice may be nothing more than a whisper, but that the power of God in that pained whisper is enough to defeat that demon.

It’s not the first time I’ve had that dream, or some version of it. There are variations of it, each one slightly different, in a different location, or with the demon taunting me in different ways, but always ending the same, with me staring him down, and struggling to make my voice reflect the power behind the words I’m trying to get out.

I have spiritual dreams every once in a while. It’s not completely out of the norm for me. So I didn’t think too much about this one when I woke up.

But looking back, I can see now that this dream, along with every other one I’ve had like it over the years, is usually a reflection of something going on in our lives. They come as a warning sometimes. A warning that something is not right. A warning that we are under attack, and to be vigilant. Other times they come just as a reminder. A reminder that the fight can be hard, and that the fight may take more out of us than we think we can handle.

A reminder that sometimes even when it feels impossible, even when it seems we are drawing on what feels like our last breaths just to force out a battle cry, no matter how small our voices, no matter how weak our shouts, we only need the slightest whisper of His name.

I always wake up in the midst of the fight. Usually just as the demon in whatever form he has taken has me just within his reach. But I never wake up afraid. Or feeling defeated.

And so I’ve often wondered if it was enough, those pained whispers. Enough to drive the demon out.

And as I thought about it today, I realized that is why I wake up. Right in the middle of the fight, just as the tip of his fingers nearly reach me, at a point where I should be terrified, I always wake up, completely unafraid. Able to go right back to sleep.

And so it occurred to me finally, that maybe it was enough. Maybe, the pained whisper was all I needed to defeat him. The pained whisper of the name of Jesus was enough to drive him away and wake me from the nightmare and bring me peace.

I didn’t realize it when I had that dream, but we were in fact, facing a spiritual battle. The past couple of months had been stressful. The usual things that affect most families. There had been some financial stress. I had also been under a good deal of stress because of an abnormal mammogram result, which was followed by a couple of follow up appointments spread over a few of what seemed like very LONG weeks. It turned out to be nothing to worry about, thankfully. There was also some college stuff for both girls that needed to be worked out. I’d not been sleeping well due to some leg pain from my old back injury. In the middle of all that, we also had some serious trust issues resurface. And somewhere in the midst of all that busy-ness and stress, there had grown a distance between us. I felt it, he felt it. Neither one of us quite sure what initially caused it or when it started growing, but both painfully aware that something just wasn’t right.

And to say that my PTSD-like reactions were triggered by all of that would be an understatement.

He felt defeated. I felt panicked. And sad. And slightly terrified.

Two months ago we were fine. Better than ever. We felt like we were in a really good place. And I can’t really tell you where or when things went wrong specifically. All I know is that we got complacent. Maybe a little lazy. We let one too many things slide. And it didn’t seem like we were that far off track. Except for that dream I had. Except for this gnawing feeling that things just weren’t right. This overwhelming prompting to perk up and pay attention. A feeling that we somehow ended up unintentionally perched on the edge of a cliff, because of our lack of intention.

And I’m not gonna lie to y’all. It got kind of bad. Actually it got really bad. It was the second big fight in the past few months that had us both feeling like we were reaching our breaking point. It culminated in an emotionally charged discussion in which Jeff hinted at the possibility that he might be ready to give up, and me suggesting that if that was truly the case that he should maybe go pack his bags.

Yep. That bad.

And just like that, we had fallen off the edge of that cliff.

All it took was for us to stop paying attention to where we were standing, just for a little bit, to stop paying attention to where we were headed. We stopped talking to each other as we walked down that road and yet somehow were still surprised when we found ourselves on the edge of that cliff. And by the time we got there, we were so disconnected and so frustrated and feeling a little lost as to how to find our way back to the path we were on before we went so far off course.

And looking over that edge was so dizzying. So disorienting. And so we tumbled right on over.

But we didn’t die there.

We found a ledge on our tumble down, and we grabbed it.

Suddenly, painfully aware of this precarious position we’d gotten ourselves into, we began to face the hard truths of what got us there. What are we doing out here, hanging on by our fingertips? We don’t belong here. And so, we climbed.

With admitting that we had both taken our eyes off the ball.

With him apologizing for some not so great choices.

With me admitting that my reactions to situations can sometimes be bigger than the situation warrants because I’m not really reacting to whatever is going on at the moment necessarily, but am actually reacting to the fear that whatever the thing we are fighting about triggered inside of me.

We pulled ourselves back over the top of that cliff by acknowledging that all of this stress, and this downfall was really a fight with the enemy, and not so much with each other. We pulled ourselves back up by realizing that to get where we want to go, to have the relationship we want to have, and be the people we want to be, we’ve got to fight together, instead of against each other.

We’re a bit exhausted, if I’m being honest. These past two months have been A LOT.

A lot of me facing my biggest fears.

Fear for my health.

Fear of lack of provision.

Fear of being deceived.

Fear that Jeff would let me down again.

Fear that these past few years, all of our hard work, everything we’ve put in to rebuilding this marriage, would end because of a bad decision, or because one or both of us just couldn’t push through one more hard day. That we would do all of this, only to fail. To end up with nothing.

And then there’s the fear that we would let all of you down.

I looked at Jeff, in the middle of our fight, and said, “This is not just about us. We’re at a crossroads here. There’s something big ahead, bigger than just us, I can feel it. And I feel like we need to be real careful how we move forward. A lot of people look to us. They look to us as an example of hope. The choices we make here, now, don’t just have the potential to affect us, there’s a whole lot of other people we would be letting down too.”

We’ve been given this platform, and we don’t take it lightly. So, yes, besides the fear of being hurt again, letting you all down or failing you in any way is one of my biggest ones.

But the truth is, we’re human. We don’t have the magic formula for repairing a broken marriage. I’m not an expert. We aren’t licensed therapists. We aren’t ordained pastors. We are just Jeff and Amy. We are two people that walked through a very dark place. We’re the guy that made the worst mistake of his life. We’re the girl who’s heart was broken. We’re a couple that found our way through the brokenness to forgiveness. We chose goodness. We chose the hard path of refinement and redemption. And I’m just the girl, following the pull on her heart to share it all with you. To be real…and sometimes painfully, raw, with sharing our story with you in a way that most people wouldn’t. Because I feel so strongly that this world needs more people willing to share their truth. Not in a vague way. Not in a glossed over highlight reel. But in the details, in the hard truth of the trenches, and the bright light of the mountaintops, and all the highs and lows of the moments in between. The world needs more people willing to shine a light in ALL the dark places, to admit that you’ve been there before, and help others see that there’s a way out.

It’s become painfully apparent to me that my biggest struggle is with fear.

I constantly have to remind myself that the fear, all that fear that I fight on a daily basis, is a liar.

He’s the demon in my dreams trying to hold the doors and keep me stuck in a place where I can’t share God’s goodness. Trying to strike out at me and wrap his wiry fingers around my throat and choke the light, God’s light, right out of me. He’s the one I see in the face of Jeff at the end of my dreams, the one telling him that he might as well give in. That he’ll never win this fight, that he’s not the man God says he can be.

The truth is, even if we failed, even if, after all these years of work and hope and sweat and joy and tears, we end up falling over the edge of the cliff, God is still there.

And He will no doubt have a path full of goodness mapped out for us. He will hold out his hand, and pull us up, and show us the way out, whether that be together, or apart. All we have to do is look to Him. I’ve seen many, many examples of God’s goodness in situations where a marriage ultimately doesn’t work out. And so while I won’t stop fighting, I also shouldn’t be afraid of letting you all down if we fail. Because while this blog is about restoration and redemption and hope for broken relationships, it’s also about restoration and redemption on a personal level. My hope, our hope, the true hope of God is that He has a plan for you, no matter the decisions of someone you love. We can’t control the actions or choices of others. All we can do is look to Him and trust in His presence and His goodness.

He’s there on the good path. He’s there on the easy days. He’s also there in the midst of those really, really hard ones. He’s there on the edge of that cliff.

And if we happen to find ourselves falling over that cliff and ending up crumpled and broken at the bottom of that canyon, He’ll be there too.

I know, because I’ve been there.

We survived the initial fall all the way to the bottom several years ago. And the climb back up has been hard, and exhausting, but also rewarding, and full of joy. We’ve had more good days than bad ones. I could have chosen not to share any of this latest struggle with you. I could have given in to the fear that to continue to give you the hope you need, and to “promote the brand” or keep up a certain image that we need to have a perfect marriage from here on out, with the appearance of neither of us failing and only having good days. But the truth is, we aren’t perfect. And a dishonest version of redemption is not a story of redemption at all. I don’t write this blog to create a brand or to gain followers. I write it to show you that we all have good days, we all have bad days, we all have victories and struggles, and that God is right there through all of it. I share our setbacks and our failures with you so you know you’re not alone. So you know that just because you’ve pushed through your hardest days, you still have to be intentional and fight for your family, for yourself, for your marriage, for the life you want. I do it so you’ll know that the goodness is worth the fight. And I do it so that you know that even if you get off course, and take a little tumble, that it’s ok. It happens to all of us. You can still grab on to that ledge and make your way back up to steady ground.

We took a little tumble. But we climbed back up. And we woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of purpose. A reminder to be intentional.

And also with great expectation. Because when the devil comes at you like that, it’s usually because God has something in the works. There’s something ahead that God wants for us that the devil does not want us to have, and maybe something that God wants us to do that the devil does not want to see come to fruition. So he came swinging at us, aiming for all the places we are the most vulnerable.

And we have just a couple of words for him:

Not today.

Jeff had a dream of his own last night. He dreamed that he and I were both in basic training.

I don’t think that was just a dream either.

Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Sometimes we all have setbacks. Just because we’ve come so far and healed so much does not make us immune to the attacks of the devil or immune to simply making a mistake. But we can win those battles and overcome those hurdles. And I strongly believe that most of our setbacks are really just setups for something on a grander scale in our future. We just have to see them for what they really are and keep our focus in the right place.

So we’re gonna keep fighting.

We’re going to keep fighting for us. We’re going to keep fighting for you. And we can’t wait to see the good that God will bring from it.

Don’t give up.

Don’t lose hope.

Don’t give in to the fear.

Just keep fighting.

Even when it’s hard. Even when you barely have enough breath to push the words out. Even when all you can manage, is a pained whisper of His name.

There’s power in that pained whisper.

That pained whisper is enough, and it’s all you need to win the fight.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

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Smoke monsters

A few weeks ago we had a pretty big argument. I wish I could tell you what even set it off. What we were even mad at each other about or fighting over, but for the life of me, y’all, I can’t even remember. The fact that I don’t even remember what it was that caused this particular flare up in and of itself is an important detail in this lesson.

We are over 3 and a half years in to our story. And y’all know, since I’ve shared nearly every moment of it with you, how incredibly hard that has sometimes been. Y’all also know how amazing and beautiful it’s been. And now that we are over 3 years in, we tend to have a whole lot more amazing and beautiful and easy days than hard ones.

But every once in a while, one of those old ugly triggers will pop up, or maybe it might not even a be trigger, but maybe just a normal, run of the mill, married couple disagreement. Which, by the way, are never just a normal, run of the mill, married couple disagreement after an affair. Every disagreement, whether related to the affair, or a trigger, or a memory, or not, holds a little more weight. The undertones, the fears, the insecurities, always seem to somehow integrate themselves into these disagreements, no matter how mundane or unrelated those disagreements are. It’s one of those built in consequences of an affair.

So whatever that argument we were having was about on the surface, it quickly became a doubt filled extravaganza focusing on the fact that the affair still has effects on us and whether or not it ever really goes away, (side note: it doesn’t.), and words being tossed out there such as how it’s easy to see why people give up and walk away because it’s frustrating and it’s exhausting….and wait, wait,wait, let’s back up a minute here, did you just insinuate that you are considering walking away…., or that it’s even an option at this point??? Like for real? Is that where we are at right now? And if so, how exactly?? Because I’m pretty sure this is not even close to what we were originally discussing when this argument started, and things haven’t actually been bad between us.

There are alarms going off. Alerting us that something, something isn’t right here. And we both know it. We know we shouldn’t be hurling out these words we’re saying. Deep down we know we don’t mean it. Yet it’s hard to grasp on to that truth because these big, big feelings of frustration feel so big and so real. These things we are saying to each other, they feel real in the moment and larger than life, yet we know, even as we are still saying them, that they don’t quite ring true. And just for a second, we recognize those alarms going off in the back of our minds, and we push through the haze and start to question the direction this argument has taken.

How did we go from a seemingly normal day to we suddenly aren’t sure we can do this anymore? I mean, just yesterday we were great. Weren’t we?? Actually we’ve been great for WAYYY more days than we weren’t. And wait, WHAT were we even arguing about and how did this suddenly turn into every thing is terrible and nothing is really better and we will never get past this? And that’s when the smoke cleared, and we realized that everything is not terrible. Things really are better. And ok, so maybe we aren’t past it, but maybe we shouldn’t really ever fully expect to be. Regardless of the answer to that, one thing is for sure, this argument is not going to be the end of us.

Y’all know how that happens. That downward spiral that starts small and ends up feeling like the bad stuff is all encompassing and all the good stuff fades into the wall of smoke swirling around you, and you suddenly forget that everything IS so much better and you have actually made a TON of progress and you’re so disoriented in the moment that you can’t see that this is all just a giant smoke monster, a dirty little trick that fear is playing on you to ruin all the good God is doing in your life and keep you from the fullness of seeing that through.

But that is the truth of these downward spirals, sucking you further and further in to the dark smoky air, trying to suffocate you and snuff out all the light you’ve worked so hard to find.

A couple of nights ago, the house across the street from us caught on fire. We watched for hours as the firemen fought it. It would be completely out, and then suddenly, a small flame would pop up in a far corner, just the tiniest faint flicker, and within seconds the fire would be raging again. As I watched, it occurred to me how much it reminded me of how an affair ravages a relationship. How in the beginning, after the initial discovery, after the decision to try to find a way to reconcile, the fire just keeps popping back up. Aggressively and persistently. You put one out just for another to pop up. One step forward, three steps back. Every reminder, every argument, every trigger, bursting into a flame that threatens to destroy everything that’s left of you. The fight with those persistent flares seems to last forever. A never ending, exhausting cycle.

The burns you sustain in the fight, the damage to the nerves, causing a nagging, constant pain that never seems to fully dissipate. But you push through, things get better. The pain fades a bit. Sometimes, you almost even forget to notice it at all. It becomes mostly just a small twinge, or maybe a dull ache, that can sometimes get worse and slightly more noticeable when a storm is near. You adjust to it. It becomes a small part of you, and though it’s not something you ever wanted, you learn to see that there can be purpose in it, and that it’s maybe even somehow made you a better version of yourself in some ways. Because it’s made you stronger, wiser, more empathetic. You see that you can rebuild something new in the ashes of what was left from the fire. You see the hope, and the beauty of the possibilities.

The fire is out. but the faint smell of smoke always lingers, the memories clinging to every surface they can find like a dark coat of soot and ash. And somewhere, in the dark corners of the attic, the fear that any tiny sense of a flicker of things not being right between you, tends to stir that fear that you could go up in flames at any moment. Or maybe, the fear that yes, you survived the flames, you survived the fire, you think you’re in the clear, all the smoke has settled, but suddenly and out of nowhere, you’re coughing and struggling to breathe. You survived the flames, but the smoke, the smoke that filled the air for so long after, the after effects of the fire that destroyed everything you knew, that is what can sneak up and kill you if you’re not careful. If you forget that the fresh air that you need to fill your lungs with is right there, just on the other side of that deceptive wall of smoke.

We fought for nearly two days, over that apparently so insignificant a thing that I can’t even recall it now. Because we all know our arguments are never about whatever it is we are arguing about anyway. We all know the argument is actually seated in our fears, our anxieties, our deep seated insecurities. The arguments are not truly about whatever thing you did or didn’t do. They aren’t about the mean words you said when you were angry. The argument is really about these questions: “Do you really love me?, Do I matter to you?, Am I safe?, Do you value me?, Are you going to break my heart?, Will we ever truly get past this?, Did we go through all this, push through all this, just to end up a failure, just to end up with nothing?”….. etc.

It is when you are able to see that these flare ups, these bad days, that, depending on where you are at in your healing might be happening frequently, or only a time or three per year, they aren’t really at all about whatever the fight began with. It’s when you are able to take some time to calm down, and come together and acknowledge that at the core of these flare ups, are all those questions and fears that I just listed, that you’ll be better able to pull yourself back from that destructive spiral, and move past them. All the other stuff, the petty arguments, are just ornamental fluff to the real issues underneath the surface.

So you sit down and have a discussion. And you focus on the truths, the real answer to those questions, instead of the lies fear is feeding you.

1. Do you really love me?: “More than you could ever possibly comprehend.”

2. Do I matter to you?: “Absolutely. You mean the world to me.”

3. Am I safe?: “I hate what I did and will never do that to you, to us, to our family again.”

4. Do you value me?: Yes, and I will never, ever take for granted the gift that you are.”

5. Are you going to ultimately break my heart again?: “I never, ever want to see the pain in your face again that I saw after what I did. Ever.”

6. Will we ever get past this?: Y’ALL PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ONE. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. IT’S ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL YOU HEAR ME ON THIS. An affair is not something you “get past”. It is also not something you will EVER get over. NOT EVER. You will not get over it. Do not expect your spouse to ever “get over it”.

The only way for it to ever disappear from existence would be for someone to be able to go back in time and change the fact that it happened. And that is not possible. It happened, and there are consequences and long lasting effects that there is no way to avoid or make magically disappear. You can make things better. You can even make things great. But you can never, ever take away the fact that it happened, or erase the pain and the scars it caused.

An affair is not something you can ever “get over”. It is something you “get through”.

You do not get over it, any more than you get over any traumatic experience or any great loss. BUT YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT. And you can have a better life, a better marriage, and a million blessings you never, ever imagined not only despite having gone through it, but because of having gone through it.

Even if your marriage didn’t survive, even if reconciliation was not an option for you, you can still get through it, and you’ll find God’s blessings waiting for you along the way.

7. Did we go through all this, push through all this, just to end up a failure, just to end up with nothing?: The answer to this one, well, it’s completely up to you. As far as your marriage goes, it’s up to both of you. Only you can answer how much your marriage is worth to you. Only you know how much of the “hard” you are willing to push through. And you really have no control over your spouse’s choice on this matter. I can’t tell you with certainty that your marriage will survive. But I can tell you that if you are both willing to push through, and to fight your way out of the belly of those smoke monsters that come for you every so often, your chances of having an amazing marriage that you never would have believed to be possible, even on your best days before the affair, are extremely high. It’s not easy, not even a little bit, but the result is worth it.

In the words of our wise counselor and life coach, Joey Grubbs, when I asked him what if we failed, if we spent all this time and energy trying to save our marriage, what if in the end, it just didn’t work, he said : “You will never regret putting in the work to try and save your marriage. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, it’s never a mistake to do everything you can to work towards reconciliation and redemption.” And he was right. Even if we had failed, even if we do fail at some point in the future, I could never regret knowing that we gave it our all. And the work that we’ve done not just in our marriage, but ultimately on ourselves, will serve us well for the rest of our lives. It is never a mistake to work towards being the best version of yourselves, and the best version of your marriage. It is never a mistake to work towards becoming the person that God intended you to be. In the end, no matter what, God is for you. And He has good plans for you, no matter the outcome.

So, today I encourage you to stay the course. When the smoke gets stirred or the sparks start to fly, or you maybe even find yourselves hurling some of that soot at each other, try not to get caught up in it. It’s so easy in that moment of chaos to forget how much progress you have made. How much goodness you actually do have. How far you’ve come and how much you’ve pushed through and the possibilities and opportunities that still lie ahead for you if you will just stay focused, and not lose your way in the smoke.

Fear is a liar. A giant, ugly, smoke monster. He will sneak up and consume you, blind you, and choke the very breath from your lungs if you let him. Don’t let one, or two, or even seven straight bad days trick you into forgetting all of the good ones. When you find yourselves having one of those days where things suddenly seem dark again, look that smoke monster in the eyes and remind him who you are.  Remind yourself who you are. Remember how far you’ve come and all the goodness that you have. Remind yourselves that those big feelings, and those words you’re exchanging in the heat of the moment are not the truth of who you are and where you’re at in this process. Remind yourselves of what you’ve overcome.

Push past that veil of smoke and take a deep, deep breath of the truth.

You’re doing great.

There was a fire, and it was devastating and life altering and you will never, ever forget it. But you survived. All you have to do, is stay the course, get back on track, call those smoke monsters out for the fear mongers and liars that they truly are, focus on the good, and just. keep. breathing.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The kindest man I’ve never met.

It’s been a minute since I’ve done any writing, so this week, I wanted to give y’all a little update to my last post.

That was a pretty tough post for me all around. Took me a really long time to get there and even when I knew I was there, there was still some part of me, that stubborn prideful part, that didn’t want to release it into the world, a part of me that still didn’t want to give her the benefit of my forgiveness, forgiveness she’s never given me the benefit of asking for. I can’t tell you how many days I sat on that post, not quite being able to bring myself to press that publish button. I needed to be sure. Sure that I was ready. Sure that I was being truthful. Still somewhat conflicted because although I felt like I could honestly say that I didn’t hate her anymore, I still definitely hated what she did, and I still definitely didn’t like her, at least not the person I knew her to be. It’s a fine line. But not holding on to hatred for a person doesn’t mean you have to like them. And you can dislike a person for who you’ve known them to be, and you can try to understand what kind of brokenness made them become that person, and you can forgive them for it, and you can hope that they are truly the different person they claim to others to be now, and you can wish them well, all at the same time. But it definitely takes some real effort to figure all that out and keep all that straightened out in your head, ha, because honestly, IT’S A LOT.

Even though I meant all of it, every word, no part of that came easily to me. But, when it came down to it, I knew it was more for my benefit than hers.

Real forgiveness is never easy.

But it was necessary, and it was sincere, and I felt better for having done it.

Now for the interesting part of the follow up… y’all remember how torn I was about how we’d both been attending the same church? Not because seeing her bothered me, but because I worried about how her husband felt about seeing us?

Well, that very next Sunday after I wrote that blog, we were walking down the long sidewalk to go in to church. As we approached the building, we crossed over the driveway and walked beside the building. Just as we were about to make the turn to go up the stairs to the entrance, out of the corner of my eye I see her husband, alone, on the other sidewalk, about to cross the driveway towards the stairs.

Oh my goodness.

I mean.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS, Y’ALL???

I mean, we had all seen each other, on several occasions there over the last few months. But there was always space in between us. It was in a passing car, or across the foyer, or a sanctuary section or two over. Close enough to make eye contact, but not side by side, not close enough to speak or for any type of real physical contact.

How was this going to go? It all happened in a matter of seconds.

Before I even really had time to fully process the situation, there we were, side by side. Him, myself, and Jeff, all approaching the stairs…literally, together.

I slowed and let him walk ahead. I see his eyes dart towards us quickly as he passes. I was so torn. Do I acknowledge him? No. I can’t do that to him. Not with Jeff right here.

What happens when we get to the door? Does Jeff hold the door for him? Will he hold the door for us? Oh, this is just awkward.

And then, OH THANK GOD for door holders. I forgot there’s always a door holder! God bless you Mr. Door holder. Today you are truly doing the work of the Lord! 😂

In my head I’m thinking, there’s probably a thousand people here today, and what are the odds the 3 of us end up in the EXACT same spot at the EXACT same time? Normally, there are groups of people walking in at the same time as we are. But not this day. We are literally the ONLY people in this particular space, walking in. It makes ZERO sense that this is happening.

I tried to read his face, but couldn’t decide what he was thinking, or how uncomfortable he was, if at all. I’ve felt torn for months between feeling like I should approach him and also feeling like maybe it was more appropriate not to. Not really knowing which was the right thing. It’s an odd thing, him and me. We are two people that have never actually met in person, that don’t really know each other at all, yet in some ways, know each other better than anyone else could because we went through a traumatic, life changing experience together. He’s someone that on one hand, for both our sakes, I wish I’d never known, yet on the other hand, am so thankful to know. So here we are, two people with no real connection to each other outside of the fact that our spouses had an affair together, forever connected in a way that’s hard to explain other than to say that we are similar types of people, that we both have the same beliefs, and share many of the same values. We had a good bit of contact with each other those first few months after finding out about the affair. At the time I was still struggling with whether or not I even wanted to reconcile with Jeff, and was leaning more towards not. He on the other hand was very much set on trying to reconcile his relationship with his wife. And since we both still had so much anger for the other’s spouse, it was difficult for us to support each other in reconciling our marriages. Although our conversations were also supportive and encouraging of each other and what we were going through on a personal level, they also always ended up including discussions of the things they did and the lies they told, and that was not conducive to healing. So we knew it was best that we disconnect so as not to bring that negativity to each other and interfere with that process. So we wished each other well, and had not talked since that last conversation.

And although we don’t really know each other, I think we both immediately felt a kindredness in our spirits, from our very first conversation, and have both wanted the best for each other since day one. So I say all that to say that when that happened that morning, walking in side by side with us, the thought that our being there, in that close of proximity, may have caused him distress…all day it just weighed so heavily on me. Because he’s a good man. His happiness and well being matters to me. I guess the best way to explain it is that when I think of him, it’s like he’s another version of me, if that makes any sense at all. Like a mirror image, with the same hopes and the same scars. I want him to have the desires of his heart, for his family to be whole, for him to have all the goodness and happiness as surely as I want all of those things for myself. And doing anything to cause him any pain is just not an option. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So a couple of days later I decided I needed to reach out to him. To apologize for that awkward walk into church with us. For not talking to him sooner about it. To clear the air and find out for sure how he felt about everything.

And his response…was completely unexpected.

“There is absolutely no apology needed for anything at all. This may sound crazy, but Amy, you could walk into church next Sunday, sit down in the seat right beside me, and I would not have a clue who you were. I have no idea what either of you look like. I never looked y’all up. It was just easier for me, not having a face to go with the man in the visions in my head of my wife with someone else.”

Wait, what??? Wait, wait wait. Did you just say you have no idea what we look like? Like, for real, you have no idea?

Y’ALL , I have no words.

I’m just kidding. I obviously have lots of words. So let me start with saying this:

That, I did not expect.

Wow. Just wow. I did not see that coming.

It never, EVER occurred to me that he didn’t know what we looked like. I mean, I knew basically everything, every detail about her, him, their families, their friends, their work… everything, within a couple of days of finding out about the affair. I’m an information girl. I have a need to know, even when it’s sometimes maybe not in my best interest. In some ways I think that is just an innate part of me and my personality, of who I am. But I think it also comes from my deep seated fears of having no control. The more informed you are, the more in control you feel. Although that isn’t necessarily true, it creates a sense of control whether it be real or imagined. So between my natural born personality traits combined with my fears, I’m basically an information, fact finding junkie. Sometimes it serves me well and is an asset to myself and even others, and other times, it’s probably slightly unhealthy. But the thought of having the self control to not look them up. Like at all. In over 3 years. That was mind blowing to me. He knew what was best for him. And he stuck to it and never gave in to any temptation to veer from that. That takes serious resolve and strength and I’m a bit in awe of his ability to do that. I would never have been capable of it. It would have made me even more crazy , the not knowing. But for him, not having the image of Jeff’s face in his head helped keep him sane.

I told Jeff what he said. Jeff’s first response was “No way. There’s no way. I mean, I don’t need to know things at the level that you need to know things but no way would I, in his position, be able to keep myself from looking him up. I would be too curious not to want to know what the guy that my wife cheated on me with looked like.”

But I explained to him that it would make no sense and serve no purpose for him to say that if it were not true. I mean, this was his opportunity to either reply that yes, he had seen at church and he’s fine with it, or yes he’d seen us at church and he hated it and to please never ever come back. There was absolutely no reason at all to say that he didn’t know who we were if he did.

And now, it made sense, the reason why I felt like I could never quite read his reaction to us, is because he CLEARLY WAS NOT HAVING ONE, because he didn’t know who we were!

Y’all. Never would I have come up with that, in any scenario I had imagined in how this might play out.

So, anyway… long story short. He’s doing great. He says it had been hard, as I would well know, but that things were good and that she truly is a changed person and that they are happy. I didn’t ask him if she was sorry for the pain she caused me or why she never apologized to me. A small part of me kind of wanted to. But that’s not a question he should have to answer. That’s between me and her, and like I said, if I never get an answer on that, that’s ok, because my forgiveness no longer hinges on her asking for it, and so ultimately, it’s really between her and God.

We had a great conversation. We discussed the miracle of redemption, the miracle of both of us making it through all of this with our families intact. And how grateful we were to be able to have this conversation after all this time and to know that the other was doing well. He said hearing from me meant the world to him, because he had thought about me and the girls and wondered if we were ok and that he had prayed for us all this time, that God would make sure that we would somehow come out ok through all this mess. It meant a lot to him to know that we were doing well.

He’s ok with us being there, and since he has no clue what we even look like, he would never know us if he saw us anyway. (Guess it’s a good thing I never approached him after all, ha. And especially a good thing I resisted the urge to go hug his neck. That would have been really, really awkward.😂 Also it occurs to me that the several times we did lock eyes and I thought he knew who I was, he must have been thinking “what is this woman looking at me for?”) 🤦🏻‍♀️

He also told me that he felt strongly that my faith could be a real encouragement to others that are going through this. Side note: before he said this, he had no idea that this blog existed or that I had ever shared our story. He was happy when I told him about it, and said he really believed God could use it for the good of others. It encouraged him that God was using our pain for something bigger than all of us.

Anyway, it was a good talk, something I think we both needed to move forward. It did our hearts good to know the other was doing well, and I would say that he is most definitely the kindest man I’ve never met. Ha.

So although the odds of us walking in side by side that week were pretty slim, 3 out of a thousand or more, it was no accident. It was God prompting me to reach out to him, so we could have a conversation that God knew we both needed to have, to have the assurance that the other is doing well, and to move forward in this situation and to give us both some peace.

God is in the details y’all.

So, now that y’all are all caught up, stay tuned for my next post. This stormy, lazy day inspired me to write, so today I’ve written two! Making up for lost time, I suppose. It’s somewhat difficult to work a full time job, manage a family, keep up with all the household stuff and somehow find or carve out time to be a writer too. I know I need to devote more time to it, so I’m gonna work on that. Thank you, my sweet friend Susan, for the unexpected encouraging message you sent me last week. I think God knew I needed a little nudge to get back to it. And thank you to the kind stranger in another state that sent me a Facebook message this week. I kind of forget how far these posts go sometimes, and your message of what my posts and our story meant to you brought me to tears and reminded me of the importance of continuing to share our story so openly. To know that our story and my words here on these pages gave you the hope to press forward and made a difference for you, means more to me than you’ll ever know. Occasionally, I check the stats on the blog, the number of views, the countries it reaches all over the world, and those numbers go up and go down, and so I don’t think much of it. Now that the more dramatic part of our story has passed, it doesn’t get viewed quite as much as it did when the stories were slightly more shocking. Over the years I’ve gotten lots of messages on and off, similar to this one. And there have been local people that have reached out, that we have personally invested in that I know we’ve been an encouragement to. So I know God has used our story for good things. But it’s been a while, since things have died down a bit, since I’d gotten a message from anyone far away, and this message came shortly after Susan’s message in which she said she felt strongly the need to encourage me to keep writing and that it had more of an effect than I would ever know. So when I received this message from a stranger a few days later, I sat at my desk in tears at the thought that my seemingly, in my eyes anyway, small platform, somehow, divinely, no doubt, found its way to this couple, and God used it to give them exactly the hope they needed. That verse about how God leaves the 99 for the 1. This is the meaning of it. God cared enough for that one person, to put my little blog in front of him when he needed it most. And if that was as far as it ever went, then it still served an amazing purpose. It’s the 1 that he cares about. And every single one of us are His 1, and He will always, always show up for us, bringing us what we need to find our way.

I may or may not ever grow to have the following that some others have. I may or may not ever have a book published around the world. I may or may not ever speak from stages to crowds of people. And truly, it doesn’t matter. To know that it made a difference, even if it were just for this one, makes it all worth it. I’m humbled and blessed that God would use me to make a difference in anyone’s life, and to be the messenger of His goodness.

And to think that this guy actually apologized for bothering me on my personal page with his message. Those kinds of messages are never, ever a bother or an intrusion, and they bless me more than I can ever put into words.

So thank you, and know that all of you out there, you all give me back every bit and more of the hope and encouragement that you say I’ve brought to you, and for that, I am so thankful.

The subject of the next post is triggers, smoke monsters, what arguments are really about, downward spirals, breathing in the truth and staying on course. I’ve got a little more editing and fine tuning to get that one ready, so come back tomorrow for that one.

Love y’all.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The mystery of forgiveness

The mystery of forgiveness.

I’m not talking about the easy kind, the kind where someone accidentally bumps into you, or spills something on your new shirt. Not the kind for when you’re uninvited, or when something someone said hurt your feelings a bit. Not even the kind where someone utterly breaks your heart into a million shattered pieces, but shows such remorse and such a changed heart that it almost makes it impossible not to forgive them. No, those are not the instances of forgiveness I’m talking about today.

It’s the digging deep, soul searching, impossible feeling, someone took something precious from you or destroyed your life as you know it kind of forgiveness. It’s the kind when they never once offered up an apology to you, maybe not even so much as an acknowledgement of the pain they caused you.

It’s the kind where maybe they aren’t sorry at all, or they truly are but never find the humility or the courage to actually tell YOU so.

Between those two options, I try to believe it’s the latter. That pride, or more likely, simply fear, keeps them from owning up to what they’ve done, at least when it comes to giving you that apology.

It’s forgiveness for someone that darkened your heart with a hatred that you never even thought yourself capable of, forgiveness for a torment that you carry the memories of forever, forgiveness of someone that never found either the kindness in their hearts, or the strength in their spirit to offer a heartfelt and sincere apology. The kind of forgiveness that no matter how hard I tried, I struggled to find a way to do it and actually mean it. The kind that the thought of actually forgiving her tormented my mind, because some deep dark part of me wanted to hold on to the hatred; she deserved that after all, right? And some part of me held on to that hatred just for the sake of it being one of the few things about the whole situation that I had some sort of control over. So much of the story is theirs, all of the secrets, theirs, all of the choices, theirs, but this, this hatred belonged to me and me alone.

I thought: I can’t get back the life you took from me, and I can’t change any of it, but I CAN hate you for it. That, I can do.

And on the one hand, while I found myself despising this newfound ability I had acquired to truly hate someone, on the other hand, that other part of me seemed to guard it as one of the few prized possessions that she couldn’t take from me.

But in that other part of me, the part where the true me lived, the thought of never being able to forgive her, the thought of that hatred that I was holding onto darkening my heart, those were the thoughts that tormented my soul.

One half of me warring with the other. One side fighting to hold on to that hatred, that rage, telling me that it is righteous anger, that she doesn’t deserve my forgiveness, that she doesn’t deserve anything good. The other half, hating myself for this newfound capacity to hate someone so much. Hating the darkness it brought me. Wanting to find some way, some real way to truly forgive her. To rid myself of the rage.

To find some peace.

And just when I would resolve to do just that, the dark side would come right back around to tell me to hate her even more because of the way she’s caused me to be so easily capable of hate.

It was a seemingly never ending cycle.

This post is about my search for a way to truly forgive “the other woman”.

Not necessarily for her sake, but mostly for my own.

Because I knew that my hatred for her, my inability to forgive, kept me bound up. Kept me stuck. Kept me from fully healing, and held us back from the fullness of the redemption God wanted for us. And it allowed a darkness to grow inside of me that I didn’t want.

It wasn’t who I was, and it didn’t belong.

I’ve had to do a lot of forgiving over the past few years. Forgiveness for Jeff.

There was a time I hated him too.

For the things he did. For the thoughts he had, for all the mistakes he made. For forgetting to see me. For not knowing who he was. For not being the man he was supposed to be. For taking everything good in his life for granted. For breaking the sacred vows he made to me and to God. For falling in love with someone else, or at least, the idea of who she was in this illusion of a fantasy world they had created. For the pain he caused me, our children, our family, our friends, and for the pain he caused her family. For the memories of all of it that would be permanently etched into my mind forever, for a story that I didn’t ask for or deserve, and for a lifetime of knowing that I can never change the fact that it happened.

It. Was. A. Lot.

And it was no easy task. But as difficult as it was, I forgave him. Because of his remorse. Because of his newness of heart and spirit. Because of his persistent and earnest love for me and this family.

I forgave him and I took him back, and I continue to forgive him daily. And because of that, because of his dedication to being the man God meant him to be and because of my willingness to forgive, we have a good, good life.

Then there were the others. People who suspected it. But said nothing. And the ones who knew. Knew it as fact and still kept his secret. Some of them I know about, and I still believe there are likely more people that knew about their affair that I don’t know about. But none of them, not a single one, thought enough of me to tell me the truth, to allow me the dignity of not having to live my life as an unknowing fool. These people, in essence, stole my choices from me every bit as much as Jeff and the other woman did. Maybe they didn’t want to lose his friendship. Or maybe they just told themselves they weren’t getting in the middle of that mess. Or they would get involved, but only to the point of telling him he shouldn’t be doing it, but not to go so far as giving me the chance to put a stop to it, or  telling him that if he didn’t stop that they would tell me.

No one held him accountable.

Not a single one. There was no friend that cared enough to take a stand and hold him accountable or to speak to him so directly as to make him make any hard choices. But instead, in keeping his secret, they were enabling him to continue on his destructive path, and forcing me to continue to live in this lie, to look like a fool, and putting my heart, my family, my way of life, not to mention,possibly my health, at risk.

I deserved to know the truth.

I deserved the chance to choose the life I lived. I deserved to know the truth about the man I loved and had shared nearly my entire life with. But no one cared enough to give me that.

I carried that grudge for a long, long time.

But I’ve forgiven them too. The ones that only had a notion of it, but didn’t know for sure, I get it. It’s not an accusation you can make lightly and without some proof. But the ones that knew, knew it as fact…that forgiveness was a little more difficult. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be close friends. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting someone. Nor does it require it. And I will probably never have any real trust in them, or consider them close friends, but I can find it in my heart to forgive them, and not hold on to the anger. I can let go of the grudge, and move on.

And now we’ve come to the part where I talk about the hardest one of all. The one that took something that didn’t belong to her. Not just something, but so many things. She took my husband. His last first kiss. His last first…. everything. She took his time, and his attention from me and from our family. She played a part in destroying our marriage, and in devastating the hearts of my children. And I hated her for it.

And when I saw what a kind, good man her husband was, I hated her for the pain she caused him too. He was a good man that should have been appreciated, and he deserved so much better than all of this.

Thoughts of her with my husband tormented me, in every excruciating second of every single day. With her selfishness, and total disregard for right and wrong, she destroyed the life I once knew. She stole my wholeness, she stole my security.

She stole my peace of mind.

She caused me to become capable of a hate so strong and so deep, that I could clearly imagine my heart turning black with it.

She caused me to doubt myself, in so many ways. And maybe, most significantly, she caused me to doubt the goodness of God Himself.

She took nearly everything I held dear.

And for what, I still don’t know.

I know, to some degree at least, why Jeff did the things he did, and what brought him to the point of being capable of it. But I don’t know her reasons for pursuing my husband. I don’t know what the driving force was behind her sending him those pictures, and inviting him to spend the day with her, or meet her in her car after work or in their special meeting places on their days off. I don’t know her reasons for continuing it for nearly a year.

I don’t know because she won’t tell me.

And I don’t really know if she’s sorry for it. Because she has never apologized. Unless you count the time when I first confronted her about all the phone calls and texts in our phone records, and told her I would tell her husband about it, and in her denial that they were having an affair she said “All I can say is I am sorry but it was only just friends.”

Shortly after that, once I found the messages between them that confirmed my suspicions, after I had confronted Jeff with it, I texted her once again. To tell her that Jeff had confessed to everything. That I knew the truth, and that soon her husband would know too. I got no apology. Just more denials. As if Jeff had anything at all to gain by admitting to have an affair with her and blow his life up if he hadn’t. Which is exactly what I said to her, along with the fact that I had proof in the messages that I found between them. After that, silence.

And so, I hated her.

And with every passing day I hated her more. I could push it back, hide it away, even convince myself that it had gotten better. But then something would trigger it and the freshness and ferocity of the anger that would rise to the surface in my heart and mind when it did, well let’s just say…it wasn’t pretty.

Two years later, I found myself still really struggling with the matter of forgiveness. Feeling such a prompting in my spirit, such a conviction that it was something I had to find a way to do.

I remember watching the movie “The Shack”, and seeing myself throughout that story of the struggle to forgive the unforgivable. The tears streaming down my face as I watched scene after scene of God leading the character through the process of it. Leaving me with an even stronger sense of the necessity of it, and of the clear fact that God was asking this seemingly impossible thing of me. Although I had some true desire to find a way to do it, I was also still a little mad at God about it. It still felt a little unfair of Him to ask this of me. And besides that, I still couldn’t imagine a way to make a reality of it. I knew I hated the way this hatred I held for her had darkened my heart nearly as much as I hated her. But how did I rid myself of it? How did I find a way to let it go?

To not hate her.

Simply wanting to wasn’t enough. Simply saying the words didn’t work, because the words came out empty…if I could have even gotten them out at all, which I couldn’t, and every time I considered trying to say them, the hatred was still always there.

So how do I find the type of forgiveness that would allow for not feeling the rage bubble up inside of me at the very thought of her? How would I find a way to not just have the desire to forgive, but to actually be capable of doing it, and truly mean it? What is that even supposed to feel like? I couldn’t fathom feeling anything but anger and rage at the thought of her. I knew you could forgive someone and not have to like them. But to truly forgive, meant to be able to wish her well. And I simply couldn’t find it in my heart to actually do that.

It was a question that would continue to plague me. Some people said that I simply didn’t have to forgive her. That they didn’t think they ever could or would if they were in my position. That I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself, that I was only human, and my feelings were valid and that anyone would have a hard time forgiving in the way that I was talking about. They said that God would understand that. And they weren’t wrong about that. But still, for me, it felt like a chain weighing me down.

It felt as though my hatred and unforgiveness was a heavy shackle, forever binding me to her, to the past, to a dark place that I didn’t belong in.

And so I sought after it. The answer to how to find true forgiveness. What it really even meant. What it looked like. Not just on the surface. Not just the words. I wanted to know how to feel it, deep down in the depths of the darkest parts of my heart. And it was exhausting. A seemingly never ending circle, in which I found myself wanting to do the right thing, but also, some part of me, fighting against it.

Because it didn’t make sense.

Forgiving someone who never asked for it. Yet, that was exactly what God was prompting me to do.

“Is it really even necessary?”, I would ask Him. “Do I really even NEED to forgive her? Life’s pretty good. We’re doing great, actually. Can’t we just accept the fact that I hate her, and can’t imagine how I could ever find a way not to, and just tuck that all away, like maybe, ohhh, I don’t know, forever???”

And His answer, “Well, I don’t know Amy. How’s that working out for you so far? (Sometimes God sounds a little like Dr. Phil) 😉 That  corner you have reserved in your heart for that hate, is that bringing anything good to your life? Or is it maybe keeping you chained to the past? Does that hatred hurt her? Or could it be that it’s only really hurting YOU?

Keep it if you want. Or get rid of it so I can fill it with something better. Your choice.”

Valid points He had there, right? But I still wasn’t fully on board. I mean, doesn’t He even ask people to repent of their sins to be forgiven? Do we not have to ask for his forgiveness?

But the answer to that, when it really comes down to it, is no.

The forgiveness was already given, and given freely for all and for everything, when Jesus died on the cross. It’s something we simply are required to accept. Now, don’t misunderstand me here. Does He tell us to repent? Yes. He absolutely does. And it IS absolutely necessary in order for us to be able to walk in a closeness and have relationship with Him. That definitely isn’t possible without our repentance and the changing of our ways.

But the forgiveness itself, the forgiveness He offered, asked nothing in return. In some of  His dying breaths, Jesus said “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The people there that day, that put Him up on that cross, that did unspeakably terrible things to Him, and cheered as He suffered, did not beg for His forgiveness or offer their apologies for what they put Him through, yet He still offered forgiveness for them, and asked the Father for the same.

And then there was this, Luke 6:35.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

We are to give without asking anything in return.

Maybe that applies to apologies and forgiveness too.

The Bible says that we are to forgive others as Christ forgave us. It also says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He offered His sacrifice for us, and his forgiveness, while we were still sinners.

It doesn’t say “after we begged his forgiveness.”

It says WHILE we were still sinners. His forgiveness was freely given, apology or not. It was ours for the taking if we wanted it. So, there’s that.

Then there was this blog. A place where I write as a means to work through my own healing while also encouraging others that find themselves where we were. And there were all the people that came to us for help. For advice. For guidance. It was a couple of months ago that it finally hit me. With these couples , whether it be the wife or the husband that cheated, I didn’t hate them. I didn’t hold them in contempt. I offered them grace. I offered them encouragement. I offered them the hope of a better marriage, of a better life. And one day I heard God speak to me. “Why are they any different than her? Each one of those people, each woman that cheated is some other wife’s “other woman”, and each husband that cheated is someone else’s Jeff. They are all someone else’s “the other woman” or “the other man”. So if you hate her, should you not hate them too? Yet here you are, offering them help, hope, grace…forgiveness.”

My response to that: “But they’re NOT the same, God. None of those people did this to ME. Only her. It’s different because SHE did this TO ME.”

But I knew deep down that I was wrong. How could I write in my blog that I would be a champion for broken marriages, the biggest cheerleader for the broken, the supporter of the one that wants to be a better person, how can I say all of that, and still feel that those things apply to everyone EXCEPT her? God didn’t extend his forgiveness to everyone except the ones that did him the most harm or caused him the most pain. No, I couldn’t tell the world that I’ll be your biggest cheerleader, I couldn’t tell all those other couples, all those people that there was hope,that they could become the people God intended them to be, and that God had good things in store for them, and not want the same for her. It was easier to offer grace to all these “other women” and “other men”, because they weren’t OUR “other woman”. But they WERE someone’s. And so when it came down to it, they were the same. And looking at it like this, helped me to change my perspective a bit. Helped me to separate my personal feelings and how I see her, to how God views her.

I had been able to see Jeff, and all of these others through His lens, to see the broken people that they were with some level of compassion, but I held so much hatred for her and the pain she caused, that I had refused to see her through that same lens.

Because that would require letting that hatred go.

And I simply had just not been ready to release it. But the more I allowed myself to compare her to all the others, the more I thought about the way that I had been able to look past their mistakes and see the potential of the person they could become, the less hatred I began to feel when I thought of her.

I used to wonder what it would be like to run into her. What my reaction would be. What her reaction would be. I used to imagine punching her in the face, and the satisfying feeling that might bring me.

In another scenario, I would imagine her simply just having to stand there, face to face, unable to run away, unable to avoid having to look me in the eyes. No violence, maybe not even words. Just her being forced to finally face me. The thought of that was almost more satisfying than the whole punching her in the face scenario…almost.

Then there was also the scenario where I see her, and I’m triggered by the sight of her, and the memories come rushing over me like they did so many times with the other triggers. I would feel as if I couldn’t breathe, a pain in the pit of my stomach and a heavy weight on my chest, and the tears would stream down my face as I stood there, paralyzed, heart pounding, frozen, lost in a memory of the past I couldn’t escape. Somehow, I felt this last scenario, should I ever actually run into her, might actually be the most likely of them all.

We’ve been visiting a new church for months. It’s somewhere that we’ve both felt drawn to for much longer than that, but had not actually attended. We have lots of friends there, even some family, and had been invited many times to come and try it out. But we hadn’t, for basically one single reason….She and her husband had been seen there on occasion.

When we left our other church earlier last year, we visited several other churches, but both always still felt drawn to this particular one. But because of the possibility that she could be there too, we just weren’t quite sure how that might play out. So for a long while,we hesitated. But every time we discussed where we might want to visit, where we felt might be the best fit, it always came back to this church. But could we? Was it really even a viable possibility? And most importantly, should we? Were we nuts to even consider it, and if so, why did we keep feeling so drawn back to it?

After talking to a couple of our friends that attended there about it, I was assured by them that while they had seen them there, it was not on a regular basis. Maybe once every few months, but that they didn’t seem to attend regularly, at least not that they had noticed. And, it was a large church with several service times and two different buildings, thousands of people coming through, so even if they did show up, there was a really big chance you’d never run into each other.

So one day, I decided that it had been 3 years. We had done a lot of healing. We were in a really good place, we were happy, and from what little I did know about their current situation, they seemed to be too. And although I hadn’t completely figured it out yet, I’d come a LONG way in my thoughts on forgiving her.

I felt like if it happened, if we did ever see them there, I felt that I had healed enough, that I was strong enough, that I had forgiven her at least enough that I could likely handle the sight of her. We would just cross that bridge if and when we come to it. And I wasn’t really worried about Jeff seeing her, or if that would stir up any deeply buried lingering feelings for her. Jeff’s feelings for her were long gone. Replaced by regret and remorse for ever having had them.

So after a long talk on the subject, on how seeing her might affect Jeff, and how seeing her might affect me, and what their reaction to us might be, we made the decision to go. This was church after all, and I knew I certainly wouldn’t be going with the whole punch her in the face scenario, even if the rage did rise up in me at the sight of her. And I felt fairly certain her husband would resist that same urge if he had it. We decided that the slight possibility of one day running into her should not keep us from following where we felt like our hearts were leading us. So we went. And for months we continued to go. Maybe they were there at times, maybe they weren’t. I didn’t know for sure, but if they had been, we never saw them.

Not once.

And then the first Sunday of the year came, and I woke up somehow knowing that that day would be the day. The day that I would see her. I don’t know how I knew, I can’t explain it, but somehow, I just knew. I didn’t bring it up to Jeff, but for a second, just in case my feeling was right, I considered maybe just staying in bed. But I didn’t. I had that moment of hesitancy, but also just had an overall sense of calm. I’d known all along that it was a possibility. In the back of my mind I always somewhat worried and wondered how that might play out, and what effect it might have on me. In a way, I guess I thought it wasn’t such a bad thing to just get it over with. At least then I would know. Know if it was something I could handle. So I got up.

It was crowded, more crowded than I’d ever seen it. There were a ton of baby dedications that were happening that morning, bringing in a lot of visitors, and with it also being the first Sunday of the year, I imagined that a lot of those extra people had maybe made a New Years resolution that they’d go to church more.

We had to park at the far, far end of the parking lot, and had a long walk to the building. As we were walking, I look up, and catch the eyes of a man driving by. I see his face, the face of the other woman’s husband, I catch his eyes, and I see the recognition reflecting in them as they met mine, and then, he was gone.

It was so quick.

I told myself it wasn’t him, because that was not a car I recognized as being theirs. Which was a silly thought to have because it’s been over three years and people buy new cars. Not to mention that I had suggested to him once myself that if I were him I would probably want to light a match and burn her car to the ground, rather than have to look at it ever again. It made sense that he wouldn’t keep that car. I know I couldn’t have. But still, I told myself in that split second that I was probably mistaken, and that I had imagined that look of recognition in his eyes, and that it probably wasn’t him. Until I saw Jeff’s head turn, and look back. He had seen him too. The look on his face confirming what I already knew. What I had known since the moment I woke up.

She was there.

She wasn’t in the car with him which undoubtedly meant he had dropped her at the door. I should have been nervous I guess? But strangely, somehow, I wasn’t. We walked in, and I saw her, only for a second. Standing, waiting on her husband. I felt sure she saw us too. We kept walking, making our way through the crowd to the other far end of the building. I stopped, and turned to look Jeff in the eye. I squeezed his hand and said, “Are you good? Are you ok?” He said “Yes, I’m ok. Are you?”

I replied , “actually….yes. I’m perfectly fine.”

And that was that.

No trigger. No sense of panic or rush of pain. No heart racing or crushing pressure in my chest. No bubbling rage. No feelings of the need to confront her. No uncontrollable urge to punch her in the face. Not even the notion to maybe give her a bit of the stink eye. Ok, well maybe turning around and giving her the stink eye did cross my mind for just a second. But only for a second.

She was there. And I was there. Right there. And I was somehow calm as a cucumber. I’m not gonna lie y’all, it was weird, the calm I felt, and I was struck by it.

Jeff…well, maybe not quite as unshaken as me. He’ll tell ya that somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered if he might be the one getting punched that day, by her husband. Not that he could or would begrudge him of it. And I’m sure she was probably having those same thoughts about the possibility of being confronted by me.

But as for me, I felt… calm. Peaceful even. Maybe that is what they speak of when they say that God will give us the peace that passes all understanding. Because this peace I had in that moment, it didn’t necessarily make sense. But yet that’s all I felt. I would say that if I felt anything else at all that day, it was surprised. Not surprised at seeing her, but at the lack of effect seeing her had actually had on me.

The only thing that I didn’t have full peace about was her husband. It occurred to me that while I had somehow found enough healing for myself and forgiveness for her that I was able to be at peace in her presence, it didn’t mean that he necessarily felt the same about Jeff. And the very last thing I ever, ever want to do is cause him pain.

We’ve caught glimpses of them a couple of times since that day, and as far as I can tell, he seems ok. But I can’t pretend to know what he is thinking or feeling. It isn’t fair for me to assume that he has the same thoughts on the matter that I do, so I guess I just hope that if it’s hard for him, seeing us, that he would let me know. I hope that he would know that I have a great respect for him, and that we would make concessions in this situation if that’s what he needed to feel comfortable.

The last thing, in my search for the answer to this mystery of how to truly forgive her, not just in words, or even in intent, but truly, in my heart of hearts, forgive her, was this verse.

Romans 12:18

“If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all people.”

I’m not sure where I heard it recently, whether it was in a sermon, or on the radio, or maybe it was a verse of the day on my Bible app, but it’s been replaying in my head for weeks.

Especially this part:

“As much as it is up to you.”

And I guess, when it comes down to it, it has always really been up to me.

I’ve spent the last few years searching, grasping, trying to find any thing that would help me find a form of forgiveness that I could make sense of. I spent years waiting, requiring, and even nothing short of begging for an apology…for her to give me a reason, any reason not to hate her. My quest for the answer has been a heartbreaking, soul searching, frustrating, sometimes exhausting, yet redeeming process, nearly 3 and a half years in the making.

But I believe I’ve finally found it. Finding the answer had required two very different things, first proactively seeking it out, and second, allowing myself the time to retreat from it when it was too overwhelming, and just giving the truths I found, and the ones God simply whispered in my ear, time to settle in my heart.

It took so long to get here, but I’m finally ready now.

So,

To “the other woman”:

I don’t know if you read these. I’ve always had a feeling that maybe you have. And if you haven’t, well, I guess this is the only one you really need to. So I hope it finds it way to you.

These past few years, I’ve hated you. For everything you’ve done, I hated you with a hatred that ran so deep I barely recognized myself sometimes.

But honestly, I’m tired. I’m just so very tired. Hating you is exhausting. Holding onto it takes SO much energy. Energy that would be better spent on gratefulness for the present moment and the life I have now, and on spreading goodness instead of letting the darkness of that hatred consume me from the inside out.

I had every right to hate you for what you’ve done, and the person that you were when you had the affair. But, I’ve been stubbornly and fiercely holding on to that anger for much too long, and now, I am finally able to sacrifice the pride that made me want to hang on to it.

There’s no excuse for what you did, and I will forever hate the fact that it happened at all. I’ll never be able to forget it, but I no longer hold you in contempt for the things you did and for the pain you caused. You made some really, really bad decisions. Decisions that hurt me,your husband, and many others more than you’ll probably ever comprehend. But you’re no different than Jeff. No different than the other husbands and wives I’ve offered grace and forgiveness to. And I don’t know if you’re sorry, or if you’ve truly changed. But I want to believe that you are. The fact that your husband is still by your side, tells me that you must be. I don’t believe he would accept anything less than true change in you, and that if you weren’t truly remorseful, if you weren’t a better person now, he wouldn’t be there by your side.

When I looked over and saw you and your family together this past week, I didn’t think of all the hurtful, awful things you’ve done or who you are to me. When I saw the faces of your husband and children, all I could think is that God intends goodness and redemption for your family every bit as much as He does for mine. And maybe, that is one of the reasons God was drawing us there. Maybe seeing you there, as a family, just like ours, worshiping together, was what I needed to push out what hatred still lingered in me towards you. It’s pretty hard to hate someone when you’re standing in the same church, singing worship songs, all there for the same purpose, and loved by the same God.

For so long I’ve wanted to hear your explanation, and wanted an apology, or at the least an acknowledgement from you that you caused pain, and that you had regret for it. For so long I thought it’s what I needed, to be able to see you in a different light. But I don’t need that from you anymore. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t still graciously accept your apology, should you ever feel led to offer it. But I no longer require it. I have to believe that you made the choices you did , not because you are innately evil or set out to destroy lives, but rather because there was something so very broken inside of you.

So I don’t have to know if you’re sorry.

I forgive you , apology or not. There was a time I couldn’t even utter those words. You caused me so much heartache. But, in a lot of ways, without you, I wouldn’t have the life I have now, with the man that Jeff is now. Despite the pain I’ve had to live with, and the things I’ve lost… the things I’ve gained in this new life, the relationship that Jeff and I have and the life we live now are proving to be so much better, and much more valuable than the life I had before. God took every bit of that pain and brokenness and turned it into blessings, and the life we have now….it’s a really, really good life.

So while I’ll certainly not go as far as to thank you for it, I am thankful to God for making something better of the whole mess. For taking something so terrible and making something beautiful, and for not wasting one bit of the pain we went through.

And I hope y’all have found that too. I hope you all are better for it.

I truly wish you and your family a rich, full, and happy life, and pray that none of us ever, ever take for granted the miracle of the redemption that God has given both of our marriages and families. Because for both of us, it is nothing short of a true miracle.

So, in as much as it is up to me, I forgive you, I make my peace with you, and finally, truly and sincerely, I wish you well.

-Amy

 

And to the rest of you out there, maybe there’s someone you need to forgive. And maybe it feels impossible. And maybe, you’re just not ready yet. That’s ok. But I hope in some way my story can help you find your own way to forgiveness, and most importantly, to freedom.

And if any one of you out there reading this ever doubted the existence of God, or doubted His goodness, let this be proof. Because I can promise you, I’m a good person, but there’s not anywhere near enough good in me to be capable of doing this, of forgiving her, on my own. He’s real. His strength shines through in our weakness, His love covers everything, and his mercy is new every day. Get to know Him. Seek Him out. Let Him heal the broken places in you. You’ll never, ever be the same.

 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

In reflecting on you today, I’ve had a bit of a hard time figuring out how to describe you. On the surface, you were pretty quiet. You definitely had some big moments. But mostly, I think I’d say you were steady, and quiet. Yes, I think that’s it. A steady, quiet growth. The kind of growth you see in a child. Where you put them to bed, night after night, not really noticing the seemingly slow and subtle changes, until you look back at a picture from the year before and realize how vastly they had changed and grown. That’s what this year has been for me. Quiet, slow and subtle growth, growth that is actually a much larger leap overall than it appears to be at first glance.

2018 brought me a fairly peaceful year for the most part. Lots of good things, and a few bad things that turned out to be good things.

We had 3 beach trips. 3!!! That in and of itself makes for a pretty good year. One was a surprise whirlwind one nighter, that I was sure was going to cause me more stress than relaxation, but it turned out to be just the refreshment I needed to start off this year. That trip also brought us to Kate’s first car. Which we ended up losing a few months later to a giant tree, along with Jeff’s car. Ahhh the great car debacle of 2018. That was a doozy.

So incredibly stressful, and just when I thought it was over, Emily’s car went kaput and we were right back to a car dealership buying car #3 in a 6 week period. I was having a hard time seeing the good God intended in that whole situation. I literally had no idea how we were going to make having these new car payments work. But God, as He always does, made provisions and we haven’t struggled at all to make those payments. Not too long after all that, my car engine suddenly decided to go into catastrophic engine failure. All I could think was, “You have got to be kidding me right now.” But no, it was no joke. My car was TOAST. And after a humorous after the fact but not so humorous during the fact attempt at towing the car ourselves to the dealership about 60 miles away in an attempt to save a few hundred bucks..(we will NEVER do that again!) we find out that it is 100% covered by the warranty, up to 120,000 miles. Y’all, we were somewhere around 119,700. So while it did not feel like God was in that at the time, He most definitely was. If we had gone just a few hundred more miles, I would have been out of luck and not been able to get a dime to get a new engine or replace that car.

Then there was the rainbow prism car they gave me as a loaner while my car was being repaired. It was hilarious….and a bit embarrassing. But my Dad said he believed that the rainbow paint was intentional. Partly because God has a sense of humor, and partly an intentional reminder that He always keeps His promises to work every single thing for our good.

And that is exactly what He did.

Jeff and the girls ended up with much better and more dependable cars, and I ended up with a new engine, which means I basically got a new car, on the inside anyway. So even though it seemed like all those things were bad, God used them for our good.

This year also took us back to our favorite place, Disney World. I started planning in April, and we went in December. Disney, when my kids were little, was so fun and magical, but I am here to tell you that Disney with grown up kids is STILL so fun and magical. And a lot less stressful, ha. I mean they can walk and feed themselves, and I no longer have to lug a bag full of stuff all over the parks. It’s literally so easy now! Our trip was short this year but SO much fun.

It is and always will be a special place for us.

This was also the year that I decided to get a bit more serious about the weight I had gained. I started trying to do better food wise around April, and then in September we kicked it up a notch and switched to the Keto diet. I’m not gonna lie, the first few weeks of that transition were rough. I had quite the carb addiction and literally felt like the diet was sucking every ounce of joy from my life. I was overwhelmed and slightly confused as to how to make it work and literally wanted to cry every day for two weeks straight. Then I kind of settled in and figured it out and ended up really loving it. Now, we are not super strict, meaning we have a cheat meal every couple of weeks. And if there’s a special occasion or if there’s just something we really want, we have it. Because we are foodies and food does bring a lot of joy to our lives, and I’m not about to outlaw the occasional joyful treat in the name of some strict diet rule. I will mostly stick to the plan, but there will be times that I will just eat what I want because ‘let me live my life and live it to the fullest!

We did really well, and both lost over 20 pounds.

Starting the week of Disney, we shut the diet down temporarily because, Hello! Disney food!

I will NOT deny myself the joy of Mickey Waffles and Dole Whip floats. And then there were ALL the Christmas celebrations. And like I said, these are the times that we allow ourselves the freedom to eat that dessert, or that bread or those potatoes, and that Big Mac and fries… (yep, I totally did that) and enjoy it to the fullest. And I may have gained 3 pounds, but it was 100% worth the joy that little 3 week diet vacation gave me.

But starting next week, we will go back to the keto, because we like it, and we feel so much better when we follow it, and I have a few more pounds to go to reach my goal. I believe in making healthy choices to lose weight, but I also believe in allowing yourself a little freedom every now and then so that you don’t become a slave to the diet. I don’t want to be a slave to the unhealthy food or to the diet, so following it for the most part but still allowing the occasion wiggle room works for us.

This year also brought us our sweet Great-nephew Max. To say that I, his favorite Auntie Amy (yes Auntie Marla, it’s my blog so I can say that and get away with it.😜) anyway, to say that I was smitten, would be a vast understatement. This kid is all kinds of cute y’all. 😍

He was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. He had open heart surgery almost 3 weeks ago, to repair the heart defects and correct the blood flow to his lungs, and he handled it like a champ. The rest of us, well… we were kind of a big ole mess, but Max breezed right through it like the sweet, strong, brave warrior that he is. His parents and grandparents were an example of strength and faith in the most scary of situations, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they’ve walked through it. And we are all so very thankful for a successful surgery and for how quickly he is healing. Fun fact: His mom requested that people send letters to Max, so that she could show him all their well wishes when he got older. And Auntie Amy over here may have gone a little overboard and sent messages to a CRAPLOAD of celebrities on Instagram asking nicely if they might be kind enough to send Max a card, and Auntie Amy just may have apparently sent one too many and got herself temporarily blocked from sending messages on Instagram. Oops. What can I say? 🤷🏻‍♀️ His Auntie Amy really loves him and is willing to go to great lengths to try and get him some cool letters. Even if it means she gets temporarily kicked off of Instagram. Lol. Sorry kid, apparently my Instagram letter campaign was not a success. Auntie Amy tried. I did bring him a Mickey Mouse back from Disney though.

The surgery went great, and Max is back to his sweet, laughing, smiling self, and we are forever grateful for God’s hand in that.

And speaking of healing, I feel like we’ve done a lot of that this year. Some say year two is the magic number when it comes to healing from infidelity. Though I would say that year two was definitely a turning point, year three for me has been the most significant from a healing aspect. My heart has been calmer. My mind less anxious. The triggers nearly non existent. Nearly. Not completely. They’re still there. But they rarely take me by surprise anymore. The power they once had to literally bring me to my knees and reduce me to a breathless puddle of gut wrenching pain and tears, now barely strong enough to make me need to catch my breath. I have made huge strides in my ability to see the triggers for what they are:

-Painful memories that are no longer a part of my current reality.

-Facts that I can not change but CAN choose what to do with.

-Attacks on my heart, my mind and my spirit with the intention to keep me from living in the goodness of this present moment and to keep me from the greatness of what’s still to come.

The triggers use to come and they would pull me so forcefully into their disorienting spirals of pain, and I would be stuck there, against my will, and I would have to fight SO, SO hard to find my way out of their clutches.

But now, the triggers are mostly weak, and distant. I’m no longer an easy target for their attacks. The cracks in me have been filled up with so much of His goodness. So much grace. Forgiveness. Redemption. So many blessings, that the triggers can barely squeeze through them anymore. And even when they do, they don’t last long, because all that goodness I’ve soaked in outshines any bad thoughts they bring. And I refuse to make the space for it, that darkness. There’s just no room for it here, in this new life. I made the space for it at first. I had to. It was necessary, that brokenness. There was a time for it, and I had to accept it in and process it. Without the pain there’s no healing. Without the disaster, there’s no miracle. Without the mistakes, there’s no redemption. So there’s a space and a time for the darkness, but that space and time is LIMITED. There comes a time when we have to choose to change our perspective. To see God’s goodness as bigger than that all encompassing painful thing that we’ve gone through. There’s no magic moment that I can pinpoint that this happened for me. I think there was always a part of me that believed that God would somehow make something good out of this mess. But there were many, many moments where the pain of it all felt bigger than any good I could ever imagine coming from it. And it’s taken time to walk through that, and work through all the doubts and fears. You just have to continually choose to live in the good.

This year brought us quite a few new couples, fresh on the heels of the disastrous unmaking of their own marriages. Finding themselves stumbling blindly down this dark path we’ve walked. Each story different, but so much the same. SO MUCH HEARTACHE. And oh how my heart aches for them. Knowing so well the pain they are feeling. Remembering the freshness of it.

And so I reach back, and extend a hand in the darkness. A flicker of light to show them that they aren’t hopelessly lost. An ear to listen, and a voice to whisper, “you won’t walk through this alone.” I am not thankful for having endured the pain of infidelity, but I am thankful for the gift of being able to use that experience to help someone else walk through it, and find their way to the other side of it, and my heart is ALL kinds of in it. You will find no greater champion for your marriage, or for yourself than me and Jeff Gordy. You can get through this, you can be better in spite of it, you can be better because of it, and we are HERE FOR IT. All of it. It brings us no greater joy than to see the people that have been put in our path walking in redemption.

Not every marriage survives. And that’s ok. That just means there are other plans for your life and I can guarantee you that those plans are good. And if this is the case for you I am your biggest cheerleader and can’t wait to see what surprises God has in store for you. You are going to be ok, and great things will happen in your life and I am HERE FOR IT.

And for the marriages that have and are pushing through, that have or are in the process of recommitting to each other, seeing you guys walk this out and find your way through the darkness and slowly but surely finding your joy again… IT FILLS MY HEART UP.

To know that we had even a tiny part of God’s redemption plan for you, it’s humbling and healing and I am just so, so grateful to be part of it.

For those of you that may have stumbled across this, and maybe you’re in a situation where you are considering cheating. Maybe you’re just ever so slightly entertaining the idea. I have one word of advice. Don’t. Just don’t. Save yourself the lifetime of regret. The lifetime of hurt. Save your spouse a lifetime of carrying the scars. Save your children from having to carry those memories and that pain. That’s the best advice I could ever give anyone. Just don’t do it.

While I am thankful and blessed to help you guys out, I’d much, much prefer that you never find yourselves in need of our help.

The last few days of each year have been a little anxious for me over these last few years. It’s just part of the effects of the PTSD, I guess. Because I would think back to the end of 2014, and how I did not see the pain and heartache waiting for me that next year. I didn’t see the utter destruction that was already in the making, that would take shape just a few short weeks ahead. I’d hear that little voice that says, “you didn’t see that coming… what else might be waiting just around the bend? What unexpected destruction lies in your path?”

I started having those thoughts again a couple of days ago. But I fought back by remembering all the good things and the blessings. The gratefulness that our family still gets to go on vacations and spend holidays together as a whole family. I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude in all of those moments. The moments that we are together as a family. The moments that almost ceased to exist and never were again. I do not take for granted the miracle of those moments. The miracle of redemption. The gift that we get to share our story and bring hope and help clear a path for others that are lost in their brokenness.

In the face of anxiety, I WILL NOT forget God’s promises to work everything for our good. EVERYTHING. And I will remind myself how He has never, ever broken that promise to me. I will remember that HE IS GOOD.

And so I will have hope for a new year, and that no matter what it brings, He goes before me, He makes a way for me, and He makes all things good.

So 2018, this is where I say thank you. You had your challenges, and you weren’t always the easiest,but you’re the first year since 2015 that I can truly say really wasn’t all that hard. You brought lots of good things, good experiences, and good people into our lives. You proved that God is still in the details, and that He is still working ALL things for our good.

So here’s to you, and here’s to all the great things to come in 2019.

And finally, thank you all for continuing to read my posts. I know I wrote a lot less this year, even though I said last year I was going to write more. Oops. 🤷🏻‍♀️

And even though I haven’t touched that book I said I was going to write in months. Oops again. 🤦🏻‍♀️

I think I just had a lot more healing and growing to do before I was truly ready for that, and I think I’ve done a lot of that this year. So maybe I’ll get back to that soon. If a book is meant to be, and God wants it in the hands of people, He will work all that out in His timing, so that the specific people it’s meant for will have it EXACTLY when they need it. And if that never happens, I’ll continue to share my story here, and in my everyday life and with the people that God puts in our path. I’m not saying I’m setting the book on a shelf, but I think I’ve needed to take the time to heal a little more before I can really fully tell our story in that format. I believe I’m a lot closer to that now, and that I’ll pick it back up when God prompts me that the time is right.

We are truly thankful for all of you, for your encouragement, your love, and your support. I pray you all have a new year full of blessings and adventure and that no matter what this new year brings, that you’ll look for the goodness. That you’ll “be the tree” if an unexpected storm comes your way. And that you’ll find the joy and the miracle of redemption, in whatever form that takes.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Make the space

I woke up early this morning, itching to write something. Anything really. It seems that it has become increasingly more difficult to find the time for it. Writing requires focus, and quiet, and time to reflect and sort your thoughts, and it seems that my days off either become so full with daily responsibilities or time made for family or friends….all really good things, but when I go too long, I start to feel like something is missing. I start to feel a little incomplete, maybe unfulfilled?

I’m not really sure what the word I’m looking for is. I think it’s just become so inherently a part of who I am, and what my purpose is, that when I set it aside for too long, maybe I just start to feel like I’m losing a part of myself.

Maybe sometimes I don’t write for good reasons, such as the ones mentioned above, and sometimes, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t write just because I get lazy, and choose to watch the last 2 episodes of This is Us instead of writing a new blog. I can’t say that isn’t a good reason either though, because that show is SO, SO good. There are some really good life lessons hidden away in some of these shows. I mean, if the Pearson’s don’t move your soul, I don’t know if we can be friends or not. 😂

But, at some point, if I don’t purposely chase down the time to write, the writing chases me, and I find myself unable to lie in bed for another minute, or turn that tv on, or do that laundry.

I guess that’s how you know the difference between a hobby and a calling. When something is just a hobby, you can live without it. But a calling, a calling chases you down. You can run from it, you can try to ignore it. You can fill up your time with all kinds of things so that there’s no room for it. But you can’t escape it. It will not stop coming for you. And you will find that you never feel as whole, as fulfilled, as when you choose to stop, and make the space for it. To step into that calling, your purpose, His purpose.

So today, I write.

Today I write about making space.

I was talking recently with one of the young ladies that I am helping navigate the early days of surviving infidelity. We were discussing how infidelity happens and what is going through the mind of the cheater that makes them able to justify going through with it, especially when the marriage seemed to be a fairly happy one. I explained to her that the choices people make, all go back to what they are making space for.

With Jeff, it happened like this:

Honestly, I would have to say Jeff and I were probably always a little disconnected. He had a porn issue and always had a flirty nature and tended to get close to people he worked with and such. I always kind of felt like I was a bit of an outsider. Like he had his life at home with me, and then his work life that I wasn’t really privy to. Not that he necessarily intentionally kept things from me, just that he kept things compartmentalized, and because of that I felt like sometimes, all I ever got was pieces of him. I was definitely an important piece of his life, but then, when the other woman came along, their friendship crossed the boundaries bit by bit. He slowly started having more conversations with her and less conversations with me. He began to share more of his thoughts and feelings with her and became less and less open with me. This went on until the pieces of him I did get became less and less, and the space I took up in his heart and mind got more and more crowded out by the fantasy world he created with her and so to him, in his mind, it felt like he had lost his connection with me. So he told himself that we weren’t really happy, that maybe we weren’t really compatible, that we didn’t have that spark anymore. When in reality, none of those things were really true. We had not lost our connection or our love for each other. He had just stopped making space for it by filling his head with the illusion of his life with her.

Little by little, he allowed the thoughts and the flirtations and the conversations to take up more and more space in his heart and mind until he couldn’t see me anymore through the cloud of it.

Thankfully, when he was no longer able to hide in that fantasy world he created, and everything was brought to light, he was able to break through that fog so he could see the truth of that. And the truth of the destruction that was caused because of his choice to make space for all the wrong things.

Now, he and I both make an effort to include each other in every part of our lives. We are definitely more connected now than we ever were before any of this happened and it’s because we’ve learned how to love each other and HOLD THAT SPACE for each other well.

Be careful of what you’re making space for. Don’t be fooled by that thing that maybe boosts your ego, or makes you feel good in the moment. Don’t be fooled by that thing that looks all shiny and sparkly and fun on the surface. Because before you know it, it will grab hold and grow like an unforgiving cancer and you will lose sight of everything that ever really mattered to you. It will fill you up until it eats away every piece of who God intended you to be. And you’ll be so blinded by the illusion of it, you won’t even realize it, until it may be too late.

So be careful, so very careful, with what you make space for.

But mostly, be intentional in what you make space for. Make the space for your spouse. You may feel like that spark is gone, or that you just don’t have the same connection that you used to have. But I am here to tell you, if it was ever truly there to begin with,

you did not lose your love for each other. You did not lose your connection to each other.

One or maybe both of you simply stopped making the space for it.

You have to choose what and who to make space for.

And if you need help with figuring out how to do that, come talk to me. Come talk to Jeff. We will do our best to help you find your way down this path. We may not be that far ahead of you, but we are far enough ahead to be able to tell you what it looks like. We know the traps, the detours, the potholes that can sometimes make it feel impossible to travel. But we are here, we made it through them all so far, and so can you. It’s a steep and narrow road, but you do not walk it alone. We will make the space for you.

Make the space for the things that really matter. Make the space for your family. Make the space for your spouse. Make the space for your health. Make the space for your spiritual life. Make the space for your healing. Make the space for your calling. Make the space for your purpose.

Make the space for every bit of goodness you can find. Just make the space for it, and God will fill you up with more goodness than you can hold.

Decide today what you need to clear out. Decide today what you need to make the space for.

Just make the space.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Feels like freedom

Oh September. I try to ignore you. I really, really do.

And I was doing a pretty good job of it.

I mean, it’s usually around mid August, when the heaviness starts setting in. When I remember the date looming ahead, September 10th. The day life as I knew it irrevocably changed forever.

But this year, August was nearly over and I realized that I really hadn’t thought about it. That’s when it suddenly struck me how well we are doing. How far we’ve come. How far I’VE come.

How quiet the hum just underneath the surface has gotten. That hum used to be such a roar, I could barely focus on anything else. The thoughts and the pain, they not only ran through a never ending loop in my mind, but they seemed to course through my veins, seeping into every part of my existence. I learned to push it back, to try and drown it out so that I could function in a halfway normal manner for all outward appearances. But it was still SO loud for what seemed like so long.

I’m not sure exactly when it got so much quieter. I can’t really pin point it. I think it was so slow, so gradual, I just didn’t notice it. I mean, I did notice. I knew there had been healing. I knew it got easier. But I hadn’t really noticed the stark distance between where we were and where we are. I hadn’t really noticed the gradual lessening of the hum.

Most of the time, it’s nothing more than a faint whisper now. Echoes of the past. I don’t suppose it ever completely leaves you.

But to know it won’t always be so loud, so painfully loud, well, it feels…kind of like freedom.

Maybe not freedom in the sense that it has no bearing on you anymore. It certainly still affects the present sometimes. But sometimes maybe freedom isn’t necessarily a release from something, as much as it is learning to live your best life in spite of something. Learning to make the most of the changes it brought. Learning to live through it, and launch from it.

Maybe freedom is actually acceptance. Maybe, freedom is merely growth.

Maybe, freedom is simply gained not by trying to forget, or pretend as though that bad thing never happened, but maybe it’s in the ability….no, the insistence of moving forward in search of the good.

It definitely shaped the person I am today. In good ways and bad. It tore me down. Stripped me of almost everything I believed to be real. Shattered my heart.

It broke me.

EVERY SINGLE part of me.

But I survived it.

WE survived it.

I put myself back together. Although the pieces didn’t fit quite the same anymore. There were cracks. So many cracks. But if you allow it, God can fill those cracks with goodness. The cracks are still there, and you can still see the seams of every single one.

I’ll never be the same.

But eventually you won’t see the emptiness through the cracks anymore. Just the goodness shining through.

And sometimes, there’s goodness that was already hidden underneath the cracks. Gifts and talents and wisdom that’s always been there, but has been locked away, waiting for the outer layers to be torn away so it can rise to the surface.

I had to choose that. I had to choose to either dwell in those empty broken places, or let Him both draw out what was hidden away beneath them or fill them in with something I was missing. And if today, you are the one that is broken, at some point you will have to choose too.

Not all at once. But little by little, after you’ve spent some time exploring those broken pieces of yourself, and taking the time to grieve the parts you lost, you will have to decide if you want to dwell there, in that dark broken place, or if you want to look for the goodness to come. You have to choose to allow God to fill that space in, even when you’re not sure how it could possibly be filled. No, it won’t happen quickly, or all of a sudden. But your time will come. Your deafening hum will get quieter. You’ll suddenly realize that it isn’t so hard anymore.

That life can be good again.

Broken is hard. Shattered is painful. Being torn down is nothing less than completely devastating.

But being torn down is sometimes the only way to be built into your full potential. Being shattered is sometimes the only way to release the things hidden away inside of you.

And sometimes, broken is beautiful.

Because sometimes, broken is the only true way to wholeness.

Sometimes the broken you is the only way to the best you.

I woke up a few days ago, finally feeling the heavy pull of September. Feeling the pull of darker days; echoes of that awful September day three years ago, and the excruciating days that followed it, calling out to me. Drawing me back like some giant magnet into a dark hole. That hum that I had just recently realized was so quiet, threatening to get loud again. The images, the memories, trying to force their way in.

There’s no peace for you, they say.

You don’t get to be a normal couple, they say.

You’ll always be broken, they say.

And the worst one….

I can ruin you again, they say.

But I fight not to listen. Not to let the lies settle in to my spirit. I fight back with the truths that I’ve hidden away there.

It’s not easy. Because those whispers feel like loud, unavoidable truth sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like those dreams you have where you try to scream but you can’t get the sound out, or you try to fight but you’re frozen and can’t move.

So you have to dig deep, and let God’s truths you’ve hidden away in your heart speak for you until you find your strength and your voice again.

Because God says that He heals the broken-hearted, and He binds up our wounds.

Because God says no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Because God says He gives us a new heart.

Because God says He makes a way for us in the wilderness.

Because God says He will make all our paths straight.

Because God says He is for us.

Because God says He knows the plans He has for us, and they are always, always good.

Because God says what He has joined together, let no one tear apart.

Because God says we are more than conquerors.

Because He says He makes all things new.

Because He says He will give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

Because God says let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

And I SAY so.

I am redeemed.

WE ARE REDEEMED.

So take that, September. Take your darkness. Take your sadness. Take your bad memories. Take your anxiety. Take your deafening hum.

You had your day. And that day has passed.

You tore us down, but He built us up.

You took away everything we had and everything we were, but He replaced it with something far better.

You won the battle on that dark September day, but Jesus, grace, and love,

Love won the war.

Matthew 7:25

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy