“I really just wanted to punch her in the name of Jesus.”

Sometimes, you have to go through the hard stuff to get to the good stuff.
I did something hard this week. First, I went somewhere last weekend that took me past one of the places that breaks my heart. A place that when I drive by, I can envision him and the choices he was knowingly making. I can see him walking in that place. Making those choices, the ones that would tear me apart.

It took me a few minutes to catch my breath, but it wasn’t as bad as the last time, months ago, when I had to pull over because I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and because I couldn’t see to drive through the tears.

This time was a little easier. No tears. Only a little bit of that knot in my stomach, and tightness in my chest. Only a minute of getting my breath back. I felt like I handled it much better.

Then a few days later, a much bigger test.

I went to the town that she lives in, yes, THAT “she”…the other woman. There was something we needed to go look at for our house, and it just happened to be there.
In that town, the place that it began.
The place I wish he’d never gone. The job I wish he had not taken. How different things might be if he just had not taken that job.

I didn’t go to the actual spot, I don’t think I can do that. I think I should probably never do that. But I was close, so close, and I had to drive past a very prominent sign for one of their meeting places. Normally just the thought of these places puts me into a near panic attack. But I did it. And I only caught myself holding my breath for a moment.

The thoughts came, the heaviness, but I pushed through it. I was pretty proud of myself for getting through it without having a meltdown. It was kind of a big deal.
I don’t want my feelings about those locations to keep me from living my life.
Then at the end of the week, we took a day trip to Savannah, and that required me again to pass through that area, and right past another one of their meeting spots. And then again on the way home. By that last pass through, I felt like maybe I was pushing it a little, but
I survived it.
And I only momentarily wished no one was with me so I could pull off the exit, knock on her door and punch her in the nose. Ok if I’m being honest, maybe I thought about it a little longer than I should have. 🤔👊🏼😳
Of course I wouldn’t have actually done it.
I don’t think.
I’m really not completely sure.
I’d like to think I have more self control than that but I honestly can’t imagine how I’d react if I saw her. Sometimes I think I still have so much to say to her. Yet, at the same time I don’t know if there are enough words to communicate what I would want to say, or what those words would actually be. Nor do I have any idea the effect they would or wouldn’t have. And there’s that other side of me that really just wants to not say a word. Just let my anger do the talking and punch her.

Just. one. good. time.

That’s not the right thing to say, I know. Nor is it a mature or classy thing to do. I didn’t say I was proud of it. I’m not. But I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it. I’m pretty sure y’all aren’t judging me for it, ha. I think if you found yourself in my spot, and many of you have been, you’d understand the feeling. Actually, I’d be willing to put money on the fact that more than a few of you have wanted to punch her for me.

One sweet friend of mine (who shall remain nameless), actually ran into her at church once. Her exact words were: ” I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe she was standing there and it was actually her and I was going to have to speak to her and smile at her…and I did it. Somehow I did it. But on the inside, all I could think about was how I really just wanted to punch her in the name of Jesus.” 😱🙈😂
That’s a true friend right there y’all. Im telling you right now, if you’ve got someone that would stand in the middle of church and secretly want to punch someone in the name of Jesus for you, well, that means they really love you. Ha. And her telling me that story made me giggle during a time that I had not laughed in weeks.

No worries though. There was no punching. She dug deep and instead of punching her, she smiled and welcomed her kindly in the name of Jesus. And I told her that was the right thing to do, because Jesus was just what she needed, and if she loves Jesus, she could learn to be a good person for her family. And maybe never do this to anyone else again.

Sometimes I consider contacting her again. To try to find some sort of closure. To see if I can reconcile my feelings about her and towards her. To see if there is any way I could actually forgive her. But there’s a 50% chance it could make me feel better, and a 50% chance it could make me feel worse. And I also feel pretty certain it wouldn’t even matter, because I don’t think she would be brave enough to face me. Brave enough to be truthful with me. She certainly wasn’t the last time.
I could be wrong. Or not. Maybe she has changed. I still hope for that. Despite my feelings for her, for the things she did, for everything she said, for the pain she brought my family, and the pain she brought her own, for everything she took from me, and for not being sorry about it, I still want happiness for her family. I pray that she’s a better person now, for them. They deserve that.
So I continue to push that aside, at least until I feel clear one way or the other that it would be beneficial. I guess in reality, for all I know she is reading these blogs. They’re posted and reposted on all kinds of social media, Facebook, Instagram, even Pinterest. A simple Google search takes you right to it. They’ve been read by thousands of people spread across several continents. And she is only 30 minutes or so away,and there are so many people that know both of us. So I guess it’s not unlikely to think she’s possibly come across them. If so, I guess she pretty much knows all my thoughts and feelings, the same way all of you do. In that case, maybe the ball is in her court…..🎾
I still can’t handle the actual locations, and I don’t know that I will ever want to try, but I feel like this week was a small victory of sorts. The memory of her may have stolen a few moments during those drives, but I had a great day with my husband and my daughter, and she can’t steal that. She stole so much from me. She stole so many days. But not this one.
I’m not going to let the hard stuff keep me from the good stuff.
I win.
Love wins.
Goodness wins.
Always.
Amy Thurston Gordy

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It’s complicated.

How am I?

I’m doing good. Aren’t I? I mean, I wake up intent on doing good. I get through my days and push past the bad stuff and put a smile on my face, and that smile, more often than not, is genuine. I’m thankful for everything God is doing in our lives. He really is so, so good. So in that sense, things are great.

So when people say “Are you doing ok?” , I say “I’m fine. I’m good.” And I mean it. I believe it’s (mostly) true. Honestly when it comes down to it, I don’t really have a choice. If I want to be fine, I just have to decide that I am, and go with it.

But sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I feel like there’s a fine line between positive thinking and downright suppression. Sometimes that line gets blurry and I realize that maybe I’m not dealing with something that I need to deal with and that isn’t healthy. So I try to pay attention. When someone asks me how I am, I’ve realized that sometimes maybe it’s because they perceive something that I’m suppressing. Something in my countenance that I’m not aware of. So at first my response is, “I’m doing great”, but later, I realize maybe I’m really not so great. So I deal with it the best ways I know how and I get up the next day and start fresh with the intent that I will have a good day.

Living in positivity, it’s so simple, yet also so complicated. Because the things that cause the negative thoughts are real. The pain is real. The heartache is real. And sometimes I feel like pretending that it’s not, for the sake of trying to be positive, is just not realistic or healthy. So yes there’s a fine line. I’m working on finding the balance. Being honest with myself about how I’m really feeling, so that it doesn’t eat me away inside, while keeping a positive mindset and believing with everything in me that I’m going to get there. That I am doing great. That the heartache will one day lose its sting. That one day I can truly let go of the anger.

 
Jeff and I had a conversation the other day. I asked him if there was any part of him that was glad that he had the affair. If there was maybe just a part of him that was a little bit glad that he got to have that experience. I mean it’s something that all guys think about whether they act on it or not. So, knowing now that he would end up getting everything back, that basically things would suck really bad for a while but in the end he is forgiven and gets his life and his family back. Was there any part of him that would go back to that moment and still go through with it? Was there any part of him that felt good that he got to have that experience, he got to be with someone else and he didn’t lose everything? Knowing now that things turn out pretty good for him, and that I was the only one really still paying the price? I was the one really feeling the consequences, and he really didn’t lose anything.

His response was “I lost a lot of things, but mostly, I lost you.”

I said “but I’m still here.”

He said, “You are, but also you’re not. I lost you. The real you. The you that existed before I did this. I get pieces of you, I get what you want me to see, but I never really have all of you.”
I said, “but it isn’t that I let you see what I want you to see, this is me now. These pieces…This is all that’s left.”
And he said, “and I have to look at the pain in your eyes. I have to look at you every day and see the parts that are gone, and know the reason those aren’t there anymore is because of me. I did that to you. I have to live with the fact that I did that to you. And you are a different person now. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because in so many ways you’re even better, but that’s because since I took those pieces out of you, you filled in those empty spaces and put pieces back in their place. But if I could go back, even knowing that we end up together, I would never hurt you like this again. There’s nothing on this earth worth seeing you cry, seeing you sad, nothing worth having to watch you feel that pain.”

 
Sometimes I forget. I forget that although he ended up getting everything back, he carries the guilt of what he did. It really wasn’t a fair question to ask. Just a thought in my head when I was feeling angry about how much this has cost me. Sometimes I look at him and think it must be nice. To walk around knowing you got to enjoy doing what you did, you had your fun, things got really bad for a little while and then you get to walk around forgiven and free and everything in your world goes on like it never even happened and so why wouldn’t you go back and choose that again.

But that’s not who he is. I know that’s not who he is and I know that he hates the person he had become. The person that did that. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of that thought process, but I know it’s not true. If he could go back, knowing what he knows now, I have to believe he would choose differently.

But I keep going back to what I said in that conversation.

“These pieces… This is all that’s left.”

It’s kind of like that movie “The Truman Show”. When you wake up one day and realize that things are not at all what you thought they were. When you realize that almost a year of your life is missing. That it was a deception.

That really messes with your head. It’s hard to make sense of it. You go back through those days and it’s so confusing, to see them the way you remember them and then to compare them with the light of truth shining on them. It’s hard to distinguish which parts were real and which parts were just part of the deception. That, along with the heartbreak. It changes you. Parts of you are broken, and while parts can be mended, they are never the same, and sometimes there are gaps. Pieces that just seem to be missing.

So like Jeff said, we fill those pieces in. So, who is the real me now? I’m still figuring that out. I’m still filling in those missing spots. Sometimes, like when I ask Jeff a question like I did the other day, I’m trying to fill them in with the wrong stuff. So I have to take that back out. I’m doing my best to fill them in with forgiveness, love, kindness, joy, and strength. A whole lot of strength.

 
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. It takes something that has been broken, shattered, and it embraces the brokenness, and encourages an acceptance of the things we can not change. The philosophy is that brokenness is a thing of value, that there is more beauty in that brokenness than there was when the object was whole. Instead of hiding the broken parts, it illuminates them. There is an incredible beauty that can come from brokenness. When it’s pieced back together with care, and with the most precious of materials and resources, it takes on a new life. A new purpose. Fragile, yet incredibly resilient.

I like the way someone that wrote about this process once put it, that “in many ways , the true life of the bowl began the moment it was dropped.”

I like to think of my healing process as being similar to that.

 
So when you ask me how I am, I’m going to smile. And I’m going to tell you that I’m ok. That I’m getting better every day. And I’m going to mean it.
I want to be like that piece of pottery. Not trying to hide the brokenness. But instead illuminating it by being pieced back together with the goodness of God. Because there is no purer gold than his goodness. And when all the pieces are seamed back together, hopefully you’ll see his goodness shining through all the places I was broken. And I believe that I will find that I’m ok with who I’ve become. Some parts old, some parts new, once shattered but still shiny. Enriched by the brokenness instead of being destroyed by it.

So how am I doing? Well, it’s complicated. But, I think I’m doing just fine.

The State of the Union

The state of the Union. It’s a serious analysis of where we stand. Where we came from. Where we are now. Where we are headed. Are we stable? Are we strong? Are we vulnerable?

Are we putting ourselves in a dangerous position or are we protecting our most important relationships?

Are we constantly taking inventory of the state of our union?

Or are we simply going through our days, oblivious and complacent. Ignoring the warning signs. Brushing off those tiny little promptings we keep feeling that something is not quite right. Disregarding those occasional thoughts that things are not the way we wish they were. Telling ourselves that all relationships feel like this. That the distance is normal. Constantly telling ourselves that this coexistence, that the lack of true connection, is fine. We are fine.

But that’s not true. You’re not fine. It’s not fine. You’re in the danger zone. And maybe you don’t even know it.

Because it is in our complacency, it is in our in-attentiveness, that things fall apart. It is there where relationships slowly disintegrate. It is there , where we feel the most comfortable, that our worlds can cave in on us.

There is never an excuse to have an affair. No matter the state of your relationship, it’s inexcusable to betray someone that way. There has never existed an excuse that would validate doing that.
If you ask someone that cheated why they did it, more often than not they aren’t really even sure. When it comes down to it, they don’t know specifically why they went through with it. It’s hard for them to pinpoint the moment they really made that decision and why. They usually end up saying it was a mixture of things or that they simply got caught up in the moment. And maybe the real question that we need to ask is not “How did you come to the decision to have an affair?” but “What kept you from coming to a decision not to?”
While there is never a good excuse, there are always contributing factors. Things that maybe created the environment where you or your spouse were more vulnerable to an affair. Things that weakened the armor protecting your relationship. So many things, situations, and sometimes even people, both inside and outside your marriage can put kinks in that armor.
The questions we should all be asking ourselves are:
Are you present in your relationship?

Do you communicate with each other?

Do you try to respect each other’s opinions?

Can you agree that you won’t always agree and not let those things tear you apart?

Do you make your spouse and time with them a priority?

Are you affectionate with each other?

Do you try to make your spouse feel special? Feel treasured? Loved and secure?

Do you feel treasured, loved and secure?

Are you encouraging to each other?

Do you flirt with each other?

Do you flirt with others?

Is there anyone outside your marriage that actively, subtly or maybe even blatantly pursues you?

Do you allow a friendship outside your marriage to meet or exceed the level of friendship you have within your marriage?

Do you allow yourself to be put in situations where an affair could be tempting or possible?

Do you hide texts, phone calls, phone apps, or websites from your spouse?

Do you surround yourself with other people that are committed to their relationships, that believe in faithfulness, or do you spend your time with people that don’t value marriage in that way?

Are there addictions in your life that cause issues for you or those around you?

Do you make an effort to think positive thoughts about each other throughout the day?

Do you wear your wedding band?

Do you have insecure feelings about yourself which makes it easier for that outside person to make you feel good about yourself, making it easier to want to take that risk because of how that makes you feel?

Are you frequently away from your spouse? If so, have you discussed how you will handle that distance, and how you will handle tempting situations?

Is your relationship under major stress, such as finances or health issues? Are you supporting each other through it or blaming and resenting each other for it?

No, there is never, ever a good excuse for an affair. Not ever. Not one single reason that would be justified for inflicting the kind of pain and emotional trauma that comes along with it. The seemingly never completely healed wound that it leaves in its aftermath. Nothing on this earth could justify it. It’s cruel. It’s selfish and thoughtless and inexcusable. But it’s not unforgivable.
If you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you either have to be the one that needs to be forgiven of this offense, or the one choosing whether or not to forgive, Whether you’ve never had to deal with the effects of an affair or are trying to move forward from one, you have to address the state of your Union. Not occasionally. Not once a year, or once a quarter, or just when things get tough.
Constantly.

Always.

Every. Single. Day.

Be aware. Be present. Be proactive. Be intentional.

How do we save our marriages from complacency, from being just alright but not truly fulfilling? How do we go from just “living together”, to truly “living,together”?
How do we save our relationships from spiraling out of control, from life changing destruction?

We pay attention. We never stop making an effort to value each other. We never let go of gratitude. We focus on the positive aspects of the ones we love. When things get tough, we do the work. And we safeguard our hearts , our minds, our eyes. Never let all the distractions blind you from the truth of what your relationship can and should be. Never believe the lies that the grass would be greener somewhere else. Most times, that green grass is just an illusion, a grand mirage created in a fantasy world void of the pressures of stress, bills, kids and everything else in real life. You can’t live there in that fantasy land forever. Once the light of truth shines in and you’ve moved onto that seemingly greener grass, and it becomes your new reality, all of those stressors are still there and the fantasy disappears and you are truly no better off, and now you’ve damaged so many hearts and lives in your blind state. Open your eyes.

What is the state of your Union? Maybe you are in that place of complacency. Don’t stay there. There’s so much more. Your relationship can be so much richer and fuller. Do the work. Make the effort. Don’t settle for just ok. Commit to being better together.

Maybe your relationship already failed. Maybe there’s no moving forward, maybe that ship has sailed. That’s ok. Do better with your next one. Use the lessons you’ve learned to make sure the next relationship you have is amazing.

Maybe you are just starting out in your life together. You can’t even imagine yet losing that spark, or taking each other for granted. But life creeps in. Life gets busy and hectic and it just happens. You don’t even notice it at first.

Be vigilant. Never stop paying attention. Never stop valuing each other.

Our relationships, our marriages, they are everything. They are what makes up this thing we call life. They can make our lives incredibly rewarding, or incredibly painful. They are not something we can undervalue or take for granted. We have to treasure them. We have to actively protect them.

What is the state of your Union? It’s up to you.                                   Take good care of it.

Amy Thurston Gordy