Always call your Mama, Part Two. The baby goes to college.

This morning seems much like every other Sunday morning in our house. Jeff wakes up early. Annoyingly early. Like, can you not just enjoy the fact that we don’t have to hurry out of bed and off to work? No, no he can’t. If the sun is up, Jeff is up. So I do what I always do and try my best to drift back off to sleep until a more reasonable hour. Usually unsuccessfully, so about an hour and a half later, Jeff will walk through the door and say, “You ready for your coffee?”

And I, reluctantly accepting that my days of sleeping til noon, or even 9:00 am, are long gone, reply “sure”, and he returns a few minutes later, turning off the fan we run at night because he knows I don’t like it blowing on me while I drink my coffee bc it makes my eyes hurt, and serves me my coffee in bed, nice and hot and with a ridiculous amount of caramel flavored creamer, just the way I like it.

Weekend mornings have been quiet here for years now. Long gone are the days of little girls giggling, or the sound of cartoons playing from the living room tv, or little feet pattering into our room to climb into our bed or ask for breakfast, or to ask us to come and play.

Kate in particular as a toddler would climb in the bed, and sit on top of you, and tap her hands on your chest, or your cheeks, saying “Get up! Get up! It’s time to wake uppppp!”

But when the teen years hit, they sleep til noon if you’ll let them. So the silence of today isn’t all that out of place.

Yet, the silence of this morning, is somehow different.

Kate has a day bed with a trundle. We bought the trundle so that her friends had a place to sleep when they spent the night. For a while now, Kate would pull her trundle out at night even if there was no friend sleeping over, because every morning, when Jeff would get up, our dog April would go and push Kate’s door open, and go lay on her trundle bed. Every. Single. Day.

But not today. Because this morning, she pushed open the door to Kate’s room, and no one was there, so instead, she pushed open my door, and quietly laid by my bed.

We rarely allow April on our bed. But today, I said, “Come on up here girl. I miss her already too.”

So today is different, because today we woke up as empty nesters.

How crazy is that? Like, how old ARE WE?? How did this happen?

On the way home late last night, Jeff said, “Weren’t they just babies like a couple of years ago? Why does it suddenly seem like only weeks ago she was 5 and trying to pretend to be a movie star for our home video at Disney World and accidentally choking a little on a pretzel and then laughing like crazy at herself over it?”

You spend their entire little lives going between exhaustion and feeling like this stage will last FOREVER and also staring at their little dimpled hands and memorizing their smile and watching them sleep and sniffing their sweet little baby lotion heads, and laughing at the hilarious things they say, and wishing you could freeze time and hang on to them for just a little longer.

You spend their entire childhoods making decisions and second guessing EVERY SINGLE ONE. Sometimes you know immediately that you got it wrong, and sometimes you look back years later and think, “Ugh. Why did I handle it that way?”🤦🏻‍♀️ And you just pray that somehow, some way, you at least got most of it right.

And then suddenly, they are turning 18, and going out into the world. And seemingly, time is up. Sometimes, they even come home and say, “so, I kind of did a thing today, and you’re totally gonna hate it, but I love it.” And show you their fresh tattoo. 😬

And you’ll cringe just a little because those things are PERMANENT, and what if they hate it in five years? But ultimately you say “hey, you do you boo.”

And those days when they were small that seemed SO long, now feel like they went by in a flash, and you find yourself wondering, “How did we get here already? Where did my babies go?”

And it feels a little bit like loss. It’s the end of an era, and there is definitely some grief felt over that.

And there’s the realization that somehow we actually have reached our late 40’s, even though our minds would have us believe we are still much, much younger. How was it so long ago that we packed up our own car and drove all the way across the country to start a new life? By the way, Mama, I totally get how that must have felt for you now. My babies are two hours or less away. I was all the way on the opposite side of the country! Sorry about that!

We’ve talked about this day for years now, Jeff and I. We knew it was coming, and we had plans. Lots and lots of plans. We were gonna go places. So many places.

But wouldn’t you know, 2020 apparently had other ideas. Like a pandemic, and travel bans, and the risk of picking up a virus that may or may not kill you depending on your luck but could most definitely kill your parents if you accidentally bring it home to them.

So, the most travel we’ve seen since early March was a trip to the beach, in a private home on a private beach where we were able to still keep our distance from other people while enjoying the fresh ocean air and scenery. The cruise we spent months planning… cancelled. The weekend getaways we thought we had to look forward to… not happening anytime soon.

So, being empty nesters doesn’t look exactly how we imagined it. So far, it’s actually looking like a whole lot of this…and I ain’t mad at it. 😉

But, as with all things, it won’t be like this forever. So we will just look forward to the days that we can do all those things we planned, and try to make the most of the things that we can do for now.

Yesterday was a long day, filled with last minute trips to the store to get the few things we inevitably had forgotten she needed, lots of last minute packing and organizing, and loading and unloading two vehicles full of stuff in what felt like 100 degree heat and 100% humidity. Y’all, you truly have no idea the amount of stuff they need for such a small space. It’s nuts. I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I was for the student volunteers that came out and unloaded our cars and took all of it upstairs to her dorm for us. They were truly doing the Lord’s work.

We spent about 5 hours getting everything unpacked and put away and decorating her room. It turned out so cute!

And then we hugged our girl one last time. We told her to be sweet. To make good choices. To have fun but to make sure she actually gets up and gets her schoolwork done, because this is not a vacation. 😂

We told her we loved her, and then we left.

As we drove away, I sent pics of her room in a group text to our other daughter, my niece, and my sisters. They asked if I cried, but honestly, I was too tired to be too upset. I got a little teary, but didn’t really cry about it until I started writing this blog this morning.

But as we drove away last night, I said to Jeff, “It feels weird to just leave her there.” In that group text , I texted “I feel weird just leaving her there. Like how will she live? What if she doesn’t eat enough? Who will make sure she gets out of bed? Why’d you have to grow up Kate? Lol. “

Seriously, though… who told her she was allowed to grow up?

When my girls went to Pre-K, I clearly remember the thing that broke my heart the most was picturing them having to get their own lunch tray, and carry it ALL the way to the lunch table all by themselves. For some reason the vision of that just tore me up. I would imagine all kinds of things, like , what if they dropped it, or what if they trip and fall while trying to carry that big ole tray, or what if they can’t get their milk carton open and they’re too afraid to ask for help? Or what if they don’t like the food or are too anxious and they don’t eat enough?

And leaving them at college feels very much the same. A Mama ALWAYS worries.

But when it comes down to it, I know they’ve got this. I know they are strong. They are independent. They are capable. They are smart. And they are ultimately God’s. So I just pray. I pray for their safety. I pray for their happiness. I pray they have favor with God and with their professors and with everyone that they come in contact with. I pray they are blessed beyond measure. I pray that their path is clear and that they grow into the fullness of the person God made them to be.

I pray that we didn’t scar them too badly with whatever mistakes or parenting fails we made over the course of their childhood, and that they mostly just remember that they were so, so loved.

And I drive away, leaving my heart in two different college towns now, knowing that if they do drop that hypothetical lunch tray, they are fully capable of picking themselves up and brushing themselves off, and getting a fresh new tray. But also knowing that if they ever struggle with getting back on their feet, Mama is right here, a text, a phone call, or a short two hour drive or less away.

So Kate, a few more things I didn’t get to say last night as we left….

Be safe. Don’t stay up late every night. Don’t press the snooze button so many times in the morning. GET UP 😂

Take your school work seriously. But also have lots of fun. I’m sorry your freshman year doesn’t look quite like you had always imagined, because 2020 😩

But I’m so proud of your resolve to make the best of the situation you’ve been handed, and your intention to be true to the words tattooed across your rib cage,”live abundantly”.

I hope you stay close to your childhood friends. And I hope you make lots of new friends, and especially hope you find more of the very best friends. The ones that will be your forever people, the ones you can always depend on, whether near or far, that will be there for you through thick and thin, and encourage you to be your best self.

Make good choices. Make YOUR OWN choices, and never let the pressure of other people or situations keep you from doing what is right for you. Be true to who you are at your core, always. But also don’t be afraid of change, because sometimes it is the changes that we are afraid of that end up bringing us our best life. Have so much fun with your roommate and be good to each other, but leave some space and time for yourself and for other friends.

When it comes to relationships, choose wisely who you love. Don’t ever settle. Learn to be happy on your own before you fully give your heart to someone else.

If you feel sad, or mad, or hurt with someone more than you feel happy, they aren’t the one.

Don’t be in a hurry to find “the one”. Live your life. Enjoy your youth.

I hope you love your new home away from home. Sleep well. Eat well. I hope you learn and grow and have the best friends and the best experiences. I hope you have SO MUCH FUN.

And I’ll also tell you what I told your sister several years ago when she left home….always call your Mama. All the time.

Ok, I realize you kids these days don’t like to use the phone as an actual phone. So I guess texting will do. 😂

I am so, so proud of both of my girls and the people that you are. Every single part of you.

So most of all, I hope you always know that we love you more than you could even imagine.

So go, go and live your very best life. But come home often. Because we miss you already.

❤️

Mama

Check your heart

Well, ready or not, here come all the words. All the words that have been floating around in my head these past few weeks that I’ve struggled to put into some sort of order. Because with so much going on in the world, I don’t even know where to start. And I don’t even know that I feel qualified to write some of them. I’m not an expert. I’m not fully educated in mental, historical or social matters. I definitely do make an effort to soak up information from all sorts of different sources. Being a collector and absorber of information is an inherent part of who I am. But, while I may be somewhat educated on a lot of these subjects, I’ve never walked in the shoes of another. So, because of that, I feel less than qualified to try and find the right words. However, what I am, is a fellow human being that cares. That wants to understand. That has empathy, and compassion for others, and that wants to do what’s right. And maybe, that is all the qualification needed for any of us in this moment.

Some of you may not like what I say. Some of you may even decide you don’t like ME. Maybe what I have to say will make you uncomfortable. I hope it does. I hope that somehow, my words might open hearts of those that have been closed off, and maybe put just a tiny crack in the darkest places of all of our hearts, places that we maybe weren’t even aware were there, or maybe places that we knew existed, but refused to acknowledge or we justified them and refused to call those dark places what they truly are. I hope that my words pierce even just the tiniest pin prick to let the light in. Because just a little light is all it takes to overcome the darkness. Now, all that being said, I have a feeling some of you won’t get past the first few paragraphs. But please, if you can muster the courage, read to the end, because there’s some stuff at the end that I think if there’s any goodness in you at all, and I know that there is, will hopefully resonate in your heart.

Number 1: White privilege is real.

Andddd there go a whole bunch of you logging off without even trying to hear what I’m about to say. Y’all just give me a minute before you decide to check out.

White privilege does not mean that you grew up richer, or with more opportunities for advancement.

I hear your argument that you came from a poor background. That you had to work hard and overcome obstacles and that makes you no different or any more privileged than any Black person. You had to face many of the same obstacles and road blocks that Black people have faced. The difference though, is that the color of your skin was not one of them.

The fact of the matter is that you don’t have to teach your children from a young age how to not draw attention, and how to not look suspicious when they are going about their daily activities. You don’t have to worry when you are walking down the street with your best friend or your girlfriend that someone may call the police because you look suspicious or like you “don’t belong.” You don’t have to worry when you walk in a store that the sales clerk could automatically assume that you might steal something simply because of the color of your skin.

This is what white privilege means. We do not face the same racial bias that a Black person comes across in their every day lives.

You don’t believe it happens? Ok then, I challenge you to search out the stories. The testimonies given over the past few weeks on all sorts of platforms. There are personal posts on social media, and videos from many churches all over the country that had Black people share the experiences that they have had. Watch them, listen to them, attempt to imagine yourself , or your children, in their shoes, and then tell me if you’d still like to call them liars.

Oh, but you say you’ve watched 5 or 6 or maybe even 10 videos of Black people that are telling you that this hasn’t been their experience and that they don’t experience racial bias? Ok, maybe there are a handful of Black people that truly don’t feel they’ve experienced it, and they are actually telling their personal truth, or maybe that particular person is reaping some sort of financial benefit for posting that video, either way, for those few videos, there are thousands more that are stating their experience is the opposite, and I can’t sensibly ignore the voices of the majority because of the few that have somehow been lucky enough not to have experienced it.

Think back over your own life, and recall instances where you’ve seen someone being treated differently because of the color of their skin. Certainly you have witnessed it yourself, whether it was some small intentional or unintentional hurtful word or act or possibly even something outright blatantly unapologetically racist.

I mean, there are still golf courses here in the south that don’t welcome Black people to play.

Y’all still want to claim racism and/or white privilege doesn’t exist?

Ok, if you still don’t believe it, go find some of your Black friends or neighbors or coworkers, people that you know and respect. Actual people that you know aren’t being paid to push anyone’s agenda. Ask them if they would have a conversation with you and share their actual personal experiences.

And then ask yourself if it’s possible that you’ve passed this off as not a real thing, simply because you’ve been unwilling to listen. If you’ve chosen to only give credibility to the handful of people posting videos telling you that it doesn’t exist because that is a more comfortable dialogue for you. If you can sit, and hear the stories of these people, good people, and not feel empathy for them, not feel sorrow at the injustice of it, well… then my words probably won’t make a difference for you either. It will take a true divine intervention of the Holy Spirit to pierce a hardened heart such as this.

Number 2 : Police brutality is a real issue. Now, before another large percentage of you check out, no, I am absolutely not saying all cops are bad, and I am certainly not for doing away with the police force.

There are thousands of good men and women serving in this capacity, with good hearts and good intentions.

I appreciate and respect the job they do and absolutely do not see how a world without them is possible as long as there is evil and true crime in the world.

But there obviously are also those that abuse their power to the detriment of others. So I think we can all agree that there are definitely areas that need change and improvement, and that the implementation of new programs and policies are necessary.

I don’t believe that it is right or ok to place blanket judgement on any group of people whether it be because of their job, their beliefs, or the color of their skin. There are good and bad in every group, every ethnicity, every belief system, and every profession. And my heart breaks for the good ones that are caught in the middle of this struggle and facing such hatred and adversity, when their intentions were good. As far as “defunding the police” goes, I suppose there are many different viewpoints of what people think that means. While a small amount of people may believe it means abolishing the police force all together, in most cases, this is not what is being proposed. It is more simply a restructuring of how things are done. For instance, currently, in addition to calls for break ins, violent assaults, rapes, shootings, etc, cops also have to respond to to mental health calls, medical calls, calls about the homeless, and calls about people with addiction. It is proposed that in these non violent cases, instead of adding to the already heavy call load, these types of calls are responded to by a team of medical, mental health, and social work professionals, who have been extensively trained in how to diffuse these situations and provide the mental or social help needed moving forward for the people involved in these calls.

By taking some of the funds allocated to other programs within the police departments and allocating them to fund these professional teams, the police officers are no longer having to respond to those calls, and can dedicate themselves to doing what they were intended to do, which is fighting actual crime. Police are grossly overworked, and this would help with that. So, maybe the narrative of defunding the police is confusing in the way it’s worded, and surely there are those that would take it to the extreme and say abolish police all together, but the majority of what I’ve seen after doing the research is calling for simply a restructuring as I’ve described above and something that isn’t inherently bad, or anti cop. As described above, it would actually be a benefit to them as it would take a lot of unnecessary work load off of them and give them more time to work on true criminal cases in a capacity that they’ve been more extensively trained to work in, instead of expecting a cop with minimal training in social work or mental health to do the job of a social worker. As I said before, I’m not an expert and police budgets are not my profession or area of expertise, so I have no idea what the current budgets are or what would or could be reallocated to make this work for the best interests of everyone, but I think it’s a credible proposal that could be beneficial to both citizens and the police.

Number 3: Black Lives Matter

Oh, now that one made you bristle up. Some of y’all are shouting at your phone right now. I can almost hear ya. As many of us here in the south have heard our southern Mama’s and Grandmama’s say….”Before you go getting your panties all in a wad”, let me break things down a little.

I will be the first to admit, that there was a time that I, just like some of you did not like or understand this statement. I, just like you, thought, “well, shouldn’t we just be saying all lives matter? Because all lives matter to me, and certainly all lives matter to God, no matter the skin color.” And there is truth in that. But at the time, I , like you, was taking it out of context, and not receiving it in the nature that it was intended. No one is saying that ONLY black lives matter. They are just saying that they are in a crisis, and they need us to acknowledge it.

Here are a couple of analogies that put it into perspective:

Imagine your neighbors house is on fire. The fireman come and they start working to put it out. You do not look at the fireman and say, “but why aren’t you checking on my house? My house matters too.” The reason he isn’t checking on your house is because the immediate crisis is the fire raging in your neighbors house. No one said your house doesn’t matter. Today, it is the black community that needs our attention. They need us to acknowledge the racial bias that exists in the world. They need us to step up and speak up and help to put out the destructive fires of racism.

Imagine you are at a rally to raise awareness for breast cancer. Someone runs up to the podium during your speech and says ,”But I know someone with ovarian cancer, they matter too. Why aren’t we just bringing awareness to all cancer? Y’all must think my friends cancer doesn’t matter, because all y’all are talking about here is breast cancer.”

In reality, everyone at that breast cancer rally cares about people with other types of cancer, they are simply focusing on this particular cause in this particular moment, to get the help needed for that particular cause. It in no way detracts from the importance of all people.

Sounds like a silly thing to be upset about when you think about it from that perspective, right?

So the perspective I and many others now are able to view this statement from is , yes, of course you matter. Yes, of course everyone matters. But until we collectively value the lives of people of color at the same level that we collectively value people who look like us, then the statement that All lives matter isn’t really completely true is it? Until you can accept and acknowledge that Black lives do indeed matter every bit as much as the rest of us, not just as a platitude but actually show that you mean it in words and in deeds, then you can’t really say with any amount of truthfulness that you believe that ALL lives are equally valuable. Some of you would argue this further and say well then would it be ok for me to make the statement that white lives matter? Why is it ok for them and not for us? I’ll tell you why.

Because we as white people have never been oppressed because of the color of our skin. We’ve never been enslaved because of the color of our skin. We’ve never experienced being disallowed to enter a building because of the color of our skin. We’ve never been sent to the back of a bus because of the color of our skin.

We’ve never been segregated to a different bathroom and water fountains. We haven’t been denied entry to restaurants or stores due to the color of our skin. Historically, the lives of white people have been held at a higher esteem than those of black people. So no, we don’t get to say white lives matter, simply because we have never needed to.

“But Black people have more rights these days”, you say. And yes, you are definitely right about that. Compared to 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, they do, but there are still too many people in this world that have hung on to the bias and prejudices that have been passed down throughout generations, and because of that, we still do not have true equality.

Number 4: You might be a racist.

Now, if you’ve made it this far, don’t leave now. Y’all just stick with me.

But I’m definitely not racist, you say.

Do you use the N word? If the answer is yes, then you might be a racist. Do you make derogatory comments about black people in general on occasion? Do you engage with your friends when they tell racist jokes or maybe even tell them yourself? Oh, so you say that you might use the N word on occasion or say something ugly about Black people in general, but you’d never say it in front of a Black person, because you’re not rude or mean and would never want to offend them? Hmm. Just because they didn’t hear you say it, doesn’t make it any less mean or hurtful. In the same way that if you steal something, but no one saw you do it, or you cheated on your spouse, but they never found out, just because the offended person may not have been aware of your wrongdoing, doesn’t make any of those things any less wrong.

Matthew 12:34 for whatever is in your heart determines what you say.

Luke 6:45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Check your hearts, y’all. And I’m not just calling y’all out. I’ve had to do some heart checking myself over the years and found a good bit of inherent bias that was passed down through generations or learned from growing up in an era where things such as calling the area of town where mostly Black people lived “N-town” was acceptable behavior. And the people that I heard these things from growing up were not inherently bad people, and most didn’t say these words with bad intentions or considering themselves to be racist. They would have told you that they had Black friends that they loved too. In these cases, it’s more ignorance from having grown up in an environment that told them this was acceptable and never having occurred to them that this was hurtful. But, y’all. When you know better, you do better. And if you don’t….well, then, you might be racist.

“Well, I may do or say some of the things you talked about Amy, but I’m definitely not racist. When I’ve said those things, it was just talk. It doesn’t mean I really meant it. I have Black friends. Not a single one of them would say that I am racist.” Ok then, if one of those friends heard this conversation right now, and heard you say that you thought the remarks you have made sometimes about Black people were “just words, or you just cutting up with friends”, do you think if they heard you saying these things openly, that they would still believe that you aren’t a racist, or at the very least, have some bias and racism buried in your heart and in your mind? If you were in their shoes and the roles were reversed, how would it make you feel to know that this was in the heart of someone you considered a friend?

I say all this to get to this one point. CHECK YOUR HEARTS. Not just on the surface. Not just what you let other people see. Really check your hearts. Ask God to reveal those parts of you that don’t honor Him and others. And then ask for forgiveness and do the work to change those things in you.

Number 5: All of this stuff is just a diversion/conspiracy/hoax created by the left/right, Democrats/Republicans to stir things up and serve their agenda/gain control, blah blah, blah. Y’all. Please. Please stop making EVERYTHING about politics. You think one party or another is trying to divert your attention and push their agenda with every single issue that is brought up. I’m here to tell you right now, I could care less if you are a democrat, republican or any other party that exists. We have to stop putting our faith in this party or that party and stop viewing every issue and every hot topic through a political lens. There is not one single party or even one single person that is right about every single issue. I beg of you, BEG OF YOU, please step back from all of the politics, stop trying so hard to make everything a conspiracy and try your best to just be a good human being. Let the lens you view these issues from be one of compassion. One of empathy. One of being open to see where you might have some hardness of heart and need to make changes. And if you are truly a Christian, step back from all your politics and ask yourself how God would want you to view these issues. How would He want you to treat others? What response can you have that best honors Him and the loving , compassionate, merciful God that He is?

Turn off Fox News and CNN today and take a few minutes to simply ask Him to drown out all the noise and the politics and ask Him to break your heart for what breaks His. Ask Him to reveal any hardness or darkness in your heart that needs to be healed. And ask Him to show you how to be an instrument of change in this moment, in this pivotal time in our history, and how you can best bring honor and unity to your fellow human beings of all colors and in doing so Honor the one that created us all in His image and views every one of us as nothing less than precious.

You can have totally different political views from someone and still love them. Stop letting your political views get in the way of your relationships. Be kind and agree to disagree. Don’t tear down someone you love. Choose family over politics. And maybe more importantly, ask yourself if the things you disagree on are truly a political issue or if they are actually a matter of the heart.

Take just a few moments to ask yourself if your words and your deeds are honoring of other people and of God. If you are a follower of Jesus, but your politics make it ok to dishonor others, then you may want to reconsider your politics. Stop making excuses for your own behaviors or prejudices and stop using politics as an excuse to stay stuck there. Just be a good human.

We complicate things and make them so much harder than they are because of all kinds of things like pride, ignorance and stubbornness. But, It’s really not that hard y’all. Lay down the pride, lay down the ignorance, open your hearts, and just be a good human.

With love, ❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Love over everything

Well, I’ll preface this post by saying I know a lot of you won’t like it at all. Matter of fact, I’m well aware that it may cost me a nice chunk of followers.

But as I’ve always said, in this space, where I have the privilege of writing my words for the world to see, I will always do it with honesty, and from the heart. And with this health crisis the world is facing today, one thing has been weighing heavily on my heart today more than others.

We’ve all been put under a soft quarantine of sorts. Advised by medical experts, health organizations, and the government to adhere to certain guidelines regarding social distancing.

Some of you still think the whole thing is a hoax. Some of you believe it’s real but think it isn’t serious. Some of you are taking it seriously and are being cautious while being careful not to become overly fearful. And some of you are in a straight up panic.

Regardless of where you fall on that list, one thing is clear.

This thing is real. Those sick people actually exist. And there’s more than we will probably ever know because of the lack of testing and the fact that a large majority of people have mild to no symptoms. I’m not sure we will ever truly know the scale of this pandemic. But one thing is sure. For many, this has been or will be deadly, and/or life altering.

I’ve been as guilty as the rest of you in these early days. I’ve gone out into crowds and exposed myself and my loved ones unnecessarily. I believed it wasn’t as bad as it was being made out to be. But now, having seen and heard the testimony of countless others that are in the hot zones, I for one, will be taking it seriously.

For all of you that are brushing this off and looking the other way, I ask you to do your own research. Find the stories of the people in the hot zones. Where just two weeks ago, they were like us. Pretending it wasn’t that big of deal. Continuing to gather at parties and concerts and churches. And now, they are paying the price. Something that could have been a few weeks inconvenience if they had all followed the instructions and the guidelines to restrict contact, could have been avoided. Now there are mandatory quarantines in place. And people are sick and dying and there are not enough medical resources to help them all.

People are dying.

Some of you will say I’m just being another fear mongerer. I can assure that is far from the truth.

I am not afraid. But I am concerned. Concerned that the restaurants are still full. Concerned that the churches are still opening their doors and encouraging their people to come.

Faith over fear, they say.

It is true, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but he has given us a sound mind, and I dare say He expects us to use it.

I ask you, pastors and church leaders, if your church was suddenly infested with poisonous insects or snakes, would you encourage your members to come anyway, and just trust that God will protect them? Because this, opening your doors and not following the guidelines for social distancing and encouraging them to gather together in droves, well… you may as well hand out the snakes.

Yep. I said it.

On some posts I saw people asking what message it would send for churches to not gather in this time of crisis, and that they needed to proclaim their faith. I ask that you consider what message you’re actually sending by encouraging them to come and by using faith as a catalyst for your cause. By saying that we must ignore the urgings of our experts and leaders, you are saying that we shouldn’t respect those that have been given authority over us for one.

But most importantly, when you say things like “we have great faith and won’t give in to fear and our church members are covered by the blood of Jesus”, it insinuates to all the people that are sick, all those people in Italy and other places and even here on our own soil that have fallen ill or died, that their faith must not have been as strong as yours. It speaks to them that maybe God just didn’t love them as much.

Because they went out. Just like you. They went to their churches. Just like you. So to say that you are protected while they weren’t, that is not a message of love, and certainly not one I believe Jesus would approve of.

I can 100% guarantee you that although my family stayed home from church today, our faith is no smaller than yours. I have seen God pull us out of many a desperate circumstance, this y’all know. I have seen Him give breath to my firstborn that was by the doctors account all but dead in my belly. I have seen the miracles He is capable of. And I know that should He see fit, He could wipe this virus out with a wave of His hand. But I also know that is not always how He works. I know that sometimes in this world, bad things happen to good people. Rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. And I know that in times like this, we have to trust Him, but also be smart and make wise decisions, and not put others at risk because of our own stubbornness.

So I dare say that it is not your faith that is bigger than the rest of us, but that maybe you might consider the thing that is bigger starts with an E and ends with a go.

Yep. I said it. And I just made a bunch of you real mad.

I’m not trying to call anyone out, or make anyone angry. All I’m asking is that you search your hearts. Ask yourselves if you are truly serving the best interests of your people or if maybe you’re just a little bit afraid that if the people can’t physically come to your building, they might miss a tithe or two.

Did I just say that out loud? Oops.

Yep. I told y’all I was probably gonna ruffle some feathers.

Sorry not sorry, I guess?

Truly, I love y’all. All of you. And I don’t want to lose a single one of you to this illness. So I don’t come here to make you angry, but to hopefully make you contemplate thoughtfully your steps moving forward. Maybe this virus won’t affect you or your children. But maybe that person you hugged at church today visits their elderly parent at the nursing home later and unknowingly passed it to them, and guess what? That’s on you. Do you want to be responsible for that?

I don’t.

Jeff is a nurse. So his work can’t be avoided, and I just pray that this thing slows down and he and all his coworkers don’t have to experience choosing who gets a respirator and who doesn’t like they are having to do overseas. And I pray for his protection and for all the doctors, nurses and first responders.

Right now, my office will stay open. But there may come a time that we have to close either due to lack of supplies or simply for the safety of our staff and patients. Will going without a paycheck be hard if it comes to that? Absolutely. But it may become necessary to stop the spread. And if it does, we will have to rely on that faith we spoke of earlier.

So starting today, my family will avoid crowded places. We will stay home except for required work and a trip to the store when needed.

We took our parents some supplies and asked them not to go out for anything unnecessary. None of us kids or grandkids will be visiting them until it is safer to do so. We will talk to them by phone or text or FaceTime and I encourage all of you to do the same with your older loved ones to avoid possibly exposing them as much as possible.

If we need to get out, We will go on hikes or go fishing or for a walk. But mostly we will stay home, which is the only way to best protect everyone and ensure that this is over sooner rather than later and doesn’t blow up all at once to the point we don’t have adequate medical care. We are gonna do our part, because it’s the right thing to do.

Church is not a building. There are thousands of services online. Bible studies and life groups can be turned into Facebook groups. When the Bible states where 2 or more or gathered , He is there, it doesn’t mean we have to all be in the same building. When we all join our hearts in sincere and fervent prayer to the Father, we are gathered together. When we worship from our homes, He hears our praises just as well as He does from a church building.

I truly believe with all my heart that God would not encourage you to put yourselves and others at risk. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t all do our part to try to get this thing in check. We need to make the right choices now, in order to avoid the choices being made for us later.

You may say faith over fear, but I say

LOVE OVER EVERYTHING.

We must have both faith and love, but God says that we should have love, above all else.

Faith is trusting that God will be present, and carry us through even the darkest of days.

Love is making wise decisions to protect the lives of His people.

So be that.

Be love.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Dear 2019

Wait, what? Time for my yearly letter already? When I realized that I needed to get this post written yesterday, I fleetingly thought to myself, “I think I’m just gonna skip it this year.” I’m not sure why, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I suddenly couldn’t imagine what it was that I had to say to this year. Not because it was incredibly bad, and not because it was especially good, but honestly I think it’s because it was a bit of a blur. But, I’ve written this letter every year since my very first post on New Years Eve 2015. So I can’t go breaking tradition now. And once I start writing, I always find that I actually do have something to say. It’s the getting started that is usually the struggle.

365 days. Really, really full days. Seemed we were constantly on the go, with very little down time. Well, we had down time, just not the specific kind that I consider necessary for my overall well being. I love going places and doing things, but I’m one of those people that needs quiet time to myself at least once a week to keep from feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. And if I go too long without it, it shows. My anxiety level goes up and I start to shut down. So I’ve really got to make more of an effort to create that space for myself.

Overall though, I’d say it was a really good year for us.

We definitely had a handful of bad days. Actually, we probably had some of our worst arguments to date this year. The kind where you look at each other and think, “Who even are you?”

One of them started with a disagreement about shoes of all the silly things, and ended with Jeff walking a couple of miles home in the dark cold night. 😂 It didn’t feel funny at all at the time, but it’s pretty funny now.

Like everyone else, there are times that we disagree. There are some things that we will never see eye to eye on. There are times where arguments about the most ridiculous and unimportant things will suddenly and unexpectedly become about something much bigger. And there are times that we let those arguments get the best of us and we forget what really matters. But we always know that is not who we want to be, personally and as a couple. So we find our way back to the stuff that matters, and try to remember how to love each other well.

We took more short trips this year than we ever have. It’s always fun to get away, and this year brought us several getaways with friends, with family, and for just the two of us.

It ushered in our youngest daughter’s senior year, which has already been packed full of events and college planning and forms and fees. Good Lord have mercy at ALL the fees. If y’all have children, start saving now. Ha. Senior fees, photo sessions, cap and gown fees, Guild fees, formals, college application fees, housing application fees, oh and let’s not forget college orientation fees. That one really stumps me. They want to charge $125 for her to attend a mandatory freshman 2 day orientation. And an extra $50 per person for Jeff and I as her guests. Is this some sort of a trick? Not sure what that $50 pays for exactly, but from what I gather we get to sit through seemingly endless hours of information overload and get a parent reception with some cookies and drinks maybe? That better be a darn good $50 cookie. Lol. I know we already have one kid in college, but she took a different route, doing her freshman year at a community college then transferring to the university as a sophomore so we bypassed all this “extra” stuff. So this is all new to us.

Still, it’s an exciting time for her and I’m praying she gets there and loves it and thrives and follows her heart and makes lifelong friends and finds a career path that brings her joy and financial security. Because this Mama will find a way to pay whatever fees necessary, and spend 2 long boring days of my life that I’ll never get back in parent orientation if it means helping my girl find her best life. 😂

This year also brought the opportunity to do some long overdue improvements on the exterior of our home. I know all too well how stressful renovations can be, so it was both something I was super excited about, and also super stressed out about. Especially when choosing materials and colors, and trying to stay within our budget. But luckily for me, I have a cousin that runs his own renovation company, and he did such a good job and made it as stress free as possible, keeping things cleaned up as much as possible as he went and getting us the look we wanted within the parameters of the budget we had to work with. We got new siding and trim, new windows, replaced the two large sections of our deck that we had not gotten to when Jeff replaced the deck around the pool, and he also built us a lean-to with a tin roof to provide a covered area on the deck. I love it so much and can not wait to get the rock pressure washed, the yard cleaned up and new flowers and plants planted in the spring so we can truly enjoy the space.

Our oldest daughter finished out fall semester in college with a nearly 4.0 grade point average. That was with a schedule full of really tough stem classes and labs, so that’s a real accomplishment. And she’s getting ready to move out of her apartment and into the most adorable old house with the most precious pink claw foot tub you’ve ever seen. She will start her senior year in the fall. When I asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she sent a list back and at the top was “otoscope”. So I texted her back and said,”You mean the thing doctors use to look in people’s ears?” “Yes”, she said.

“So, you’re telling me that for Christmas, you want an otoscope, so you can look at people’s ear drums… for fun?”

“Well, yeah. I really do.”

Ok then. I think it’s safe to say she was meant to be a Doctor. 😂

And so this Mama bought her an otoscope. Did y’all know you can actually order those on Amazon? You totally can. And I totally did.

I started off this year with the intention of writing more, but somehow ended up writing less. Mostly this year felt like I was just passing through it. Jumping from one event to the next one on the calendar. Crossing off items on to do lists and going to the next thing. I did get some more of that book I keep saying I’m writing written, although I put it right back on the shelf again shortly after I picked it up. And that’s ok. It’s a work in progress and so am I.

2019 also brought me a lot further in my quest to find a way to forgive the other woman. I’d have to say that was definitely my biggest accomplishment this year. It brought me a new understanding of what forgiveness truly means and how to truly be able to let the hatred go. I’m pretty proud of the level of forgiveness I’ve been able to reach. That doesn’t mean that we would ever be friends. It doesn’t mean that I’ll ever have feelings of endearment for her. It doesn’t mean that I won’t ever think about the pain she caused and it doesn’t mean that the human side of me just plain doesn’t really like her because of what she did. But it does mean that I can see her through God’s filter. It does mean that I can wish for her and her family to have the same redemption that my family has found and the same happiness that I want for my own family. And it means that we can unexpectedly find ourselves sitting about 6 seats away from each other on the same aisle in church and it doesn’t phase me one bit. Yep. That happened. And it was fine.

Jesus loves both of us. We both have a seat at His table. And if those seats are in close proximity to each other, that’s ok. Call me crazy if you want, but we aren’t gonna be able to avoid seeing each other in Heaven. So might as well accept it and get used to it now right? Ha. Earlier this year I reached out to her husband by text to discuss the church situation, and see how he felt about it and to see how he was doing, and I found a lot of peace in hearing from him that they were in a good place and that he was happy. So, yes. Sometimes I see her at church. And sometimes we end up in close proximity to each other. And that’s not something I would have thought at one time that I’d be capable of handling. But God wants the same good things for both of us, and I guess that is what gives me the peace that passes all understanding, and allows me to share that space. Because my focus is on Him.

She did something awful that she never formally apologized for…to me anyway, and I have no idea where her head and heart are at concerning any of it. But when it comes down to it, that’s between her and her family, and mostly it’s between her and God, so it’s not my place to judge her heart. So, instead of choosing to hate her for it, I pray that she has made things right with God, and I pray regularly for her family, that they would have the same happiness and blessings that I want for my own. It wasn’t easy to get to a place where I could do that, and it took a really long time, but finally getting to a place where I can wish her the best has definitely brought my own heart a lot more peace.

So overall, 2019, I’d say you treated us well. Even if you felt a bit rushed. A bit overloaded. Maybe a bit stressful. But I’m pretty sure that was all on me, and not really your doing at all. We filled our days up, and this year was chock full of really good things. So if I had to pick a resolution for 2020, it would be to try to slow down, take each moment as it comes, and try to soak it all in a bit more and not get so stressed about getting things done and looking so far to the next thing that I miss so much of the now. Because by this time next year, we will be empty nesters. 😱 How did that happen so fast? Advice to you younger parents out there, the same advice that I heard a million times and yet it didn’t really sink in til I actually found myself here… don’t get ahead of yourselves. Don’t get so caught up in the stress of parenthood and your daily to do lists that you miss all the little moments. Because it really is true that one day you suddenly wake up and they are GROWN. And you wish you would have listened to all the older Mama’s to savor it all. Because while it feels like forever to you now, and all you really want is a long uninterrupted nap, it truly is over in a flash. So take my advice, even though I still obviously struggle to take it myself, cut yourself a break and stop over scheduling yourself and stressing over the unimportant stuff like the dishes, and snuggle those babies while you still can.

It’s hard to believe we are about to begin a new decade. The last 10 years brought me some of the greatest joys, and also the most devastating heartache. Halfway through it, my world got shaken and turned upside down and inside out. I found myself broken, and my world unrecognizable.

It was dark, terrifying, and incredibly disorienting.

But the second half brought me redemption. Healing. Wisdom. Deeper relationships with friends, with family, and with my husband. It brought me a deeper sense of self, and brought me purpose. It brought out gifts that had been hidden away, under the walls I had built, and revealed an inner strength I had no idea that I possessed. But mostly, I found a closeness with God that I didn’t even know I’d been missing. A dependence on a Heavenly Father to make all things new. A new understanding of His promise to work ALL things for our good.

So thank you, 2019, and the whole past ten years. You broke me in ways I never could have imagined, but you also gave me a new life I never could have imagined. And I came out of it, battle weary and with more than a few scars for sure, but stronger, wiser, more empathetic, bolder, and a better version of myself than I would have been without having been refined by walking through your firestorm. And knowing, more than ever before, that no matter what life throws at us, and no matter what surprises lie ahead of us, God goes before us, walks beside us, and cleans up the messes we leave behind us. He’s there in the dark, and He’s there in the light. And He always, always keeps His promise to work all things for our good.

While I know I can never forget the pain of the past decade, I’ll mostly try to remember the goodness. Because there was SO much goodness. So, I walk into this new decade thankful, hopeful, and expectantly watching for all the goodness the next ten years will bring. I pray it brings so much goodness for all of you, and for your children. I pray that all of our children, as they make their own way in life, find a deeper relationship with God that will carry them through all that they have ahead of them. I pray for blessings on all of our families, and that the next ten years brings an overflow of goodness to us all.

Happy new year. Happy new decade. May it be the best one yet.

Psalm 20:4-

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Busy, busy, busy….blessed

It’s been a busy few months, and I finally have a morning with nothing on my calendar, so I am taking this rare opportunity to sit on my sofa with a hot cup of coffee and a warm cozy blanket and write. After an especially long hot summer, in a days time winter has suddenly made its appearance.

It. Is. Cold. Y’all.

Not sure what happened to fall, it seemed to show up for all of a few days here and there, but never quite stuck. It’s been a crazy busy few months since I last wrote. We’ve gone out of town nearly every other weekend since August. Which has been awesome, because I love to travel. But it has left me little time for cleaning, writing, spending time with friends, and the million other completely necessary, absolutely ‘have to get done or things fall apart’, things on my to do lists. So I feel like I’ve been scrambling to get things done and not quite hitting the mark.

I have a senior in high school this year, and the weekly to do list for that alone seems endless. There’s the yearbook ad that had to be created. Which was actually kind of fun even though I waited til the very last day to get it done. We spent a whole evening going through boxes of old photos, trying to narrow down the perfect ones to include, and it was fun looking back, and being reminded of all the fun memories we’ve made. Seems like just yesterday she was this sweet little angel face baby.

There was homecoming court. There are multiple junior guild parties requiring costumes to be created, formal dresses and tuxes to be bought, and the scheduling of hair and makeup appointments. There are senior photos to schedule, college/high school dual enrollment forms to fill out and classes to be registered for. Then there’s college financial aid forms for next year for both girls to be done. It was also time for open enrollment for medical insurance, which I barely met the deadline for. Literally got locked out of the website and finally got it done the night before enrollment closed. Whew. There were car registration tags to be renewed. So many fall birthdays to plan for. Oh, and in the middle of all that, we refinanced our home, so there was what seemed to be endless paperwork to be done for that, and then a whole bunch of decisions to be made about the improvements we will be making to our home. And y’all know how I am about making those kinds of decisions. Lol. So hard to choose something that is hard to envision and that you know once it’s done there’s no going back. It wouldn’t be quite so hard if it weren’t for the original a-frame design of our home, with the old style gray flagstone rock around the bottom that has to stay, requiring me to figure out how to work the updated look I would like to have around existing things that I can not change. The colors and styles I would normally choose just don’t really work with the existing structure. I know I don’t want the bluish gray we currently have. But I do like a dark Navy blue. However, perhaps a true gray would work best with the rock. But then, do we go with light, medium or dark gray. And is that too monotone? Would white look ridiculous? And now I’m suddenly considering a color that I wasn’t considering at all before that looks light grayish but has a green hint to it. And then I go back to, “probably safer to stick to one of the basic grays”. Ugh. So complicated. Jeff says, “Whatever you pick will be fine.” But in my head, I’m thinking “What if I choose wrong and it looks terrible and then we are stuck with it and I’ve ruined our home and one day when we want to sell it no one will want it and they will say “why did she choose that color, and that trim, it looks terrible!”

There’s a quote out there that goes something like, “My decision making skills closely resemble that of a squirrel crossing the street.”

Yep. That pretty much sums me up.

So. Much. Pressure.

And all this, while also working full time. This mom thing ain’t no joke y’all. And it doesn’t end after they graduate. It gets a little easier yes, but the to do list doesn’t get all that much shorter. At least not for a while. But we are almost there!

I got through another September 10th, anniversary of our D-Day. We’d been so busy, I’d hardly given much thought to it at all, so going in to it, I honestly felt like this one would be pretty easy-peasy. I wasn’t feeling bad about it, or worried about it, or having any anxiety about it at all. I knew it was coming, but things are good these days, really good, and so I thought, I’ll just try to have as peaceful a day as possible, and then it will be over. Then the day came and I woke up and there it was, the heaviness and weight of the day, like a weighted blanket on my body, but not in a comforting way. I wasn’t even having bad thoughts really, there was just that physical sense of heaviness.

With trauma, the body sometimes “remembers” and reacts, even when you are mostly in a good headspace. It’s weird, but it’s real.

It wasn’t that bad though, I’d experienced this cellular memory before, and knew I could push it off. So I just told myself that I wasn’t going to let the memories of this date weigh me down, that all I needed was to try and make sure I had a peaceful, low stress day, and that I’d be fine.

Well, it turned out to be the absolute opposite of a peaceful day. It was a stressful busy day at work. Then there were things that came up with the appraisal and inspection for our home loan that had to be straightened out. Then there were issues with an online math class that Kate was taking that if not worked out, could have affected her being able to graduate on time. As these things came up, I just pushed through, did the things I could do to straighten them out, and decided to just try to have a peaceful night at home. But I did not come home to peace. I came home to an irritable, stressed out husband and child, and an immediate barrage of pointed questions as to why and how I had or had not handled one thing or another and what was I going to do about this or that to fix it, and let’s just say my resolve to have a good day crumbled under all that pressure and it ended in a stressful puddle of tears and defeat. All these circumstances and stressful situations that had absolutely NOTHING to do with what happened 4 years ago, still brought forward all those same feelings of fear, anxiety, disappointment, and the feeling that I just wasn’t enough.

So I ended the day with a bit of a breakdown, and the words, “all I needed was for today to be a peaceful day.”

The devil tries really hard to keep us stuck in that feeling of defeat I guess. And I suppose he knows that particular date is a weakness for me. So he used every circumstance and every person around me that he could to break me down. And he may have won the day this time around.

But it was just a day. And we got through it. The day passed, and September 11th was a new day, and when it comes down to it, no matter how my mind or body reacts to September 10th rolling around on the calendar, what it really represents now is another year of surviving what was meant to destroy us. Another year of goodness. Another year of hope for the future. Another year filled with blessings and a life we never imagined 4 years ago that we could dream of having.

Yes, this season has been a busy and sometimes stressful one, but it is also so, so full of goodness. Full of opportunity, and time with each other, and time spent with family.

And while those never ending to do lists can feel overwhelming at times, how blessed are we to have the things that bring these to do lists? To have the cars that need registering, the home that we can make improvements on, the marriage that nearly disintegrated, all the birthdays that mean we got to spend another year with the people that we love the most, the extended families that support and love us, the children that we can help shape a wonderful future for. And despite the busy-ness of all that we have had going on, we have had SO MUCH FUN.

So, there may be a pile of laundry on my sofa, mail scattered on the kitchen table and dirty dishes in the sink.

I may have gotten wayyy less writing done that I had intended.

And I may get something on my to do list done mere minutes before the deadline.

Or I may forget to take care of something completely.

You may hate the color I choose for the exterior of our home.

And we may just take off on another weekend getaway, just because we can.

And everything will be just fine, because we are blessed beyond measure.

So as this busy season continues, I’ll continue to try to meet it with gratitude. Gratitude for what God has brought us through. Gratitude for how he used it for our good, to bring us to this very place we are in life now. Gratitude for all the plans he still has ahead for us, and excitement for all the goodness it will bring.

And I will hope beyond hope, that I choose the right siding color. 😂

❤️

– Amy Thurston Gordy

Jesus and peach ice cream

Summer is almost over, y’all. That happened so fast. We’ve had a full summer. Lots of goodness around here.

But as I wrote in my last blog post, it started out a little rough.

I last wrote to y’all about a dream I had, one in which evil had come, looking to destroy us.

And in the space of time just before and after I had that dream, he’d been doing just that.

Attacking us in our most vulnerable spaces.

Whispering words of temptation, or words of doubt.

Whispering the lie that we will never be enough.

Calling out our faults and telling us that is who we truly are, and that we can’t be anything else.

Whispering the lie that things are worse than they are. That every argument, every disagreement, is somehow the end of everything.

Whispering words of fear.

Temptation.

Doubt.

Insecurity.

Discontentment.

False Identity.

Discouragement.

Frustration.

Fear.

Lack.

Defeat.

These are his weapons.

And he came at us with EVERY last one.

And there were moments, a couple of dark moments, when I thought he just might have succeeded.

And then I remembered. I remembered the dream I had. And I remembered the pained whisper.

And I realized what was happening, and I said to myself:

No. Nope. Nuh-uh.

Not having it.

And so I prayed.

I prayed for Jeff to remember who he really is. I prayed for his eyes to be open and his heart to be softened. I prayed the same for myself. I prayed that we would both have the discernment to be able to call the attack and the lies of the enemy out and rebuke them with the truth.

I prayed that the goodness inside of us would be bigger and the voice of truth louder than any of the darkness the devil was trying to cloud our minds with.

And finally, as we lay in silence in the quiet of the night, both of us feeling tired and somewhat defeated, I simply, and inaudibly, whispered: “Jesus, fix it.”

And within minutes, Jeff turned over and started talking, and everything was sorted out, and the darkness was gone. The heaviness was lifted. The light pushed out the dark. The truth spoke louder than the lies.

And love won.

With nothing more than two hearts, turned towards Him, and a pained whisper of “Jesus, fix it.”

So we had a little rough patch, but, like we always do, we found our way again.

And since then, we have had a lot of really great summer days.

We had an adult trip to the beach, where I ate basically nothing but baked oysters topped with every kind of cheesy goodness. Ugh. SO good. I wish I had some of these right now!

We spent a morning boating to Crab Island. I took late night golf cart rides with my sister in law and cousin in law laughing until our stomachs hurt, and I sat on the beach for endless hours, so, yeah, that was pretty awesome.

Emily came home for the summer. She recently switched her college track to pre-med, so we’ve been working on preparations for that. When she is here, the Tupperware cabinet is always organized, the kitchen clean, and I sometimes come home to find all my laundry has been folded in these neat little Marie Kondo type of tiny little squares, which is fascinating , and I always get to try new vegan meals and treats that are always good and sometimes surprisingly especially delicious. Having her home always makes this Mama’s heart happy. This week we will move her and her cousin into their new apartment, and I will miss her so much, again, but am so thankful we get to see her often, and so proud of the sweet, super smart, hardworking, ambitious woman she is.

I had a birthday. I turned 45!

FOURTY FIVE y’all.

It’s ok. I’m ok. That’s not old or anything, right? Those aren’t gray hairs I see popping up. They’re just silvery blond highlights from the sun is all. That’s what I keep telling myself. And, I’m still gonna keep praying those grays at least hold off a few more years until Kate can finish high school and college and pay for her own hair color, because this Mama can’t afford regular appointments for balayage for the both of us.

Seriously though, I’ll take it. Another year older versus the alternative.

Life is good, I have the best family and friends in the world, so give me ALL the years, please. And Botox. If anyone wants to gift me some Botox and/or fillers for these lines on my forehead and just under my eyes, I’ll gladly take that too. I’m thankful for getting older, but I’m still on board with fighting these wrinkles for as long as possible and in any way possible. Lol.

I’ve had fun weekly Bachelorette viewing parties with the very best friends and sisters in the whole world. Good friends, good food, and fun trash tv shows make for the best nights. Make time for your most favorite girlfriends y’all.

We had a 4th of July trip to the lake with Jeff’s family and some friends.

We spent time on the boat, spent time floating in the lake with friends, and shot off our own fireworks on an island in the middle of the lake.

I only nearly died once when an errant firework went flying between me and Kate and missed both of us by inches, despite the fact that I was keeping a more than was probably necessary safe distance, because I’m a fraidy-cat. Ha. That was scary. Here is video to prove it. Yikes. I might have…ok, I’ll admit that I definitely DID let out a cuss word, which thankfully was not picked up in the video. Sorry,Mama. Ha.

I mentioned to Jeff one afternoon that I would love to have some dark stained wood floating shelves to put over the sofa. He asked me to show him a picture, and the next thing I know, the man is outside building me some. He likes to make me happy. And look how great they turned out! He’s a talented builder, and a pretty sweet guy.

I took a road trip with just my parents, and my sisters, and one of my brothers. My other brother didn’t get to go because he was on the road with the band he plays with, so we missed having him there. But it was one of the MOST fun trips I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to do it again. We are so blessed to have such sweet, fun, amazing parents and I’m so thankful we get to spend time with them.

I also prayed for Kate to find a job. Because she’s a teenage girl that likes to hang out with friends, buy Starbucks, eat at Sonic, Zaxbys, and the Japanese restaurant, drive all over the place using tons of gas, and also wants to buy cute clothes, get her hair colored and nails done regularly, and let’s not forget about her absolute obsession with ridiculously expensive sneakers.

That thing they say….”having a daughter can be like having a little broke best friend that thinks you’re rich”… totally true.

She is now gainfully employed by two amazing Moms, picking up some very sweet and very adorable kiddos after school. Thank the Lord! Mama needs her debit card back,stat.

That sweet girl is a senior this year. Not sure how that happened. I’m slightly sad thinking back at how fast it went, but also somewhat excited at how easy things have gotten. She drives herself everywhere, and I never have to work on another science project or pack another lunch, and the freedom of that feels pretty darn good!

She had her senior yearbook pictures made last week.

It’s bittersweet, when the baby is a senior. It’s the end of an era, yet also an exciting new beginning.

My sweet baby is almost all grown up. Sigh. Just look at that sweet face.

We planned a weekend beach getaway, and then figured out there was a mixup with the reservation dates, so we couldn’t go. It was so, so sad. To make up for it, we took Kate and her boyfriend to an amusement park, which also turned out to be a complete bust, and so the next day we went zip lining to try and make up for the busted beach trip AND the terrible amusement park. And it was awesome. So much fun, except for the suspended swinging bridge with unevenly spaced planks to walk across. That was terrifying. TERRIFYING. But give me ALL the zip lines. So, so fun.

And Jeff finally took me fishing. I’ve only been asking like, I don’t know, a year. It was a sweet afternoon, spent in a rickety old fishing boat on a small pond. I only reeled in one fish. But one is better than none, right?

We spent more than one sunny afternoon going to the peach farm for the best fresh peach strawberry swirl ice cream cone in the world. And I’ve pretty much ignored my low carb diet for the most part in favor of the occasional cheeseburger and fries, lots of ice cream, summery pasta salads, one Oreo cheesecake chocolate birthday cake, homemade brownies with ice cream and hot caramel sauce, strawberries with homemade cheesecake dip, homemade blackberry and peach cobbler, and all the fresh summer peaches, cherries, watermelon and tomatoes I can get my hands on. Oh and poundcake. Because if a coworker’s sweet Grandma sends a still warm, fresh from the oven poundcake to your office, you eat it. Because who can resist a good Grandma baked poundcake? Not me. So if you notice that I’ve maybe, (ok..definitely) put a few pounds back on, just know it’s because I am living my best summer life and I’m not about to give up the joy of these summer time treats for the sake of a few pounds. I’ll go back to the low carb life shortly and hopefully get quickly back to my target weight. Life is short, we should enjoy it!

So, my message to you today is to always be aware. Always be vigilant of the attacks on yourself and on your family. Keep your eyes open and don’t get blinded by the lies. When the arguments or the setbacks take on that deceptive illusion that the situation is hopeless, or just too big or too hard or too overwhelming, or that you are something that you’re not; actively remind yourself and each other of the truth, the truth of who you are, the truth of who they are. The goodness inside of yourself and in them.

Enjoy all the big fun moments in life, and the little ones. Make space for the good stuff. Take the trip. Eat the ice cream. Definitely eat the ice cream.

And when the lies of the enemy get too heavy, and the darkness starts getting too thick, a simple “Jesus, fix it.”, and maybe, a freshly baked poundcake or a really good peach ice cream, is all you really need.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

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

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