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

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Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

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

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

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

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

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

And that is exactly what He did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Make the space

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

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

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

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

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

So today, I write.

Today I write about making space.

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

With Jeff, it happened like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just make the space.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Feels like freedom

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

And I was doing a pretty good job of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It broke me.

EVERY SINGLE part of me.

But I survived it.

WE survived it.

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

I’ll never be the same.

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

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

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

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

That life can be good again.

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

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

And sometimes, broken is beautiful.

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

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

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

There’s no peace for you, they say.

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

You’ll always be broken, they say.

And the worst one….

I can ruin you again, they say.

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

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

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

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

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

Because God says no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Because God says He gives us a new heart.

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

Because God says He will make all our paths straight.

Because God says He is for us.

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

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

Because God says we are more than conquerors.

Because He says He makes all things new.

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

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

And I SAY so.

I am redeemed.

WE ARE REDEEMED.

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

You had your day. And that day has passed.

You tore us down, but He built us up.

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

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

Love won the war.

Matthew 7:25

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

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The first level of Hell may very well be a used car lot.

THIS is a glorious Saturday. I didn’t wake up until 9AM, and honestly, I can’t remember the last time I slept in like that. The last few Fridays and Saturdays AND Sundays have been a stark contrast to this lazy Saturday morning. We spent them driving ALL over creation trying to find not just one, but two used cars to replace the two that got taken out by a really large pine tree a few weeks ago. Yep. That happened.

It was a dark and stormy night. (Cue the dark and stormy background music.) 😂 Ha. Don’t all the best stories start with that sentence?

It was around 3:45 AM I think, and I woke up to a loud boom, a flash of light, and the power going out. I lay there, and in my mind, I processed all that as a transformer blowing nearby. It happens often when it storms, so I didn’t think much of it. I nearly went right back to sleep, but decided I was thirsty, so I got up and went to the kitchen to get some water. As I’m standing there, I notice April (our dog) nervously pacing in front of the dining room window and sticking her nose to the window to look out. It’s not like her to worry over a little rain or even the electricity going out. She’s never really been scared of the weather. I asked her what was wrong and went over to look out the window.

It was pitch black outside, and I couldn’t see a thing. I told her everything was fine and to go lay down. About that time I see a car coming down the street. They slow down and come to a stop just up from our house. I start wondering why they are stopping. Are they out casing houses? Looking for cars to break in to? Then something catches my attention. In the little bit of light coming from their headlights that reached the road in front of my house I see the slightest movement. What is that? Is that a branch that I see rustling in the breeze? The car begins to back up, slowly, then turns around and drives away. Again, it’s so dark I can’t see a thing. Why did they stop, and turn around? Then I get that feeling. That feeling you get when you know something is wrong. So I find a flashlight. I turn it on, and flash it out the window. I still can’t see it clearly through the window but , yes. That is definitely a tree branch I see in the road. And wait, what is that? Is there something on the car? Nope. CARS. It’s on the cars! I run to the front door, open it, step out onto the porch and start down the steps. What. in. the. world.

That’s not a branch. It’s a pine tree. And it’s huge. And it’s lying directly on top of not one, but TWO of the three cars parked in my driveway. Carefully, I walk out off my steps, and flash the flashlight around to get a better look. Debris is everywhere. It looks like a bomb went off. Pieces of tree limbs. Large chunks of my beautiful Crape Myrtle tree, and its tiny pink flowers scattered all over the yard as if they had rained down from heaven like manna. The road was blocked by the bulk of this ginormous tree, and power lines were pulled down. I go back inside and walk into our bedroom, where Jeff is still sound asleep, having slept through the whole thing.

“Jeff, get up. You need to see something.”

“What’s wrong?”

“You need to get up and come outside. That loud noise wasn’t a transformer blowing. It was a tree.”

He’s still half asleep.

“What noise?”

“Jeff. Get up. A tree fell, and it’s laying across the road and it’s laying ON TOP of our cars.”

“What?!!?”

That got him up.

We walk outside, stepping carefully through all the debris and making sure we aren’t coming into contact with the power lines. We walk around the cars, and carefully in between them to survey the damage. Good Lord. This isn’t good.

Kate’s car was first. It’s a little taller than Jeff’s so took the brunt of the impact. The frame of the car across the roof is bent in, the doors not quite lining up anymore, the lining inside falling away from the edges, exposing the side airbags, which didn’t actually deploy. I’m amazed by the fact that not a single window is broken or shattered. Every bit of glass completely intact. If y’all are looking for a car with a strong sturdy frame, I suggest y’all go buy a Jeep Commander. Thank God it was the middle of the night so no one was in it, but I thoroughly believe that we could have been sitting in that car when that tree fell directly on top of it and we would have survived. That thing was definitely damaged, but it held up like a tank.

So there we have Blessing #1: No one was hurt.

Jeff’s car was next. While it didn’t take the brunt of the impact, it still got hit hard. It’s roof also dented in, but the worst of the damage was a large branch that went through the windshield and impaled the passenger side dashboard. Glass everywhere.

Thankfully, my car was spared, only by inches. You could see where a large branch had broken off directly in front of my car. I don’t know if it was already missing, or had broken off in the fall, but had that branch still been there it most likely would have damaged the front of my car also. So for that little miracle, we were thankful. And that would be blessing #2.

I called the non emergency number and reported it, and within minutes we had police, the fire department, and city utility workers on the scene. They made quick work of clearing the road, and getting the power back on. Appreciate your public servants people. They are the real MVP’s, and I was super impressed with how quickly they responded and got things cleaned up and safe again. We will call that blessing #3.

Next I called the insurance company. They made the claims process super easy. Well, as easy as it can be when you are two cars down I guess. A few months before all this, I switched insurance companies. I was trying to lower our premiums. Jeff’s car had been paid off for a long time, so my first instinct was to just have liability coverage on his. But something told me to check the rates on keeping full coverage. To my surprise it wasn’t that much more. Still, I thought, I could just go with the liability and save that money. But for some reason I kept feeling like I should go with the full coverage. It was a 2003, probably way beyond the reasonable amount of time it should have lasted us, and although we would have loved to have something nicer for Jeff, we intended to run that thing until it wouldn’t go another mile to avoid adding another car payment. So really, liability would have been the way most people would go. But, the thought kept going through my mind that if something happened, we may not get much for it but something was better than nothing. So I went with the full coverage. Pretty sure that was God pressing me to keep the full coverage. And that was definitely blessing #4. We didn’t get much for it, but it was more than we expected, and enough to make a decent down payment on his truck.

A week later, we get the call from the insurance company that we were fully expecting. Both cars were a total loss.

Poor Kate was devastated. She put on a brave face, but I’m pretty sure she cried herself to sleep. If y’all remember, we just got her that car back in February, and she LOVED that car.

Her insta story that night: 😭

We were only allowed to keep the rentals for 3 days past the day they informed us the cars were totaled, so sharing one car with 3 people with jobs was a challenge, and we were in quite a rush to find replacements. And that is where the real stress began.

I suppose car shopping could be fun. If you had plenty of money to spend and were able to just go to your nearest car lot and pick something. But when you have very limited funds, are having to add a car payment to your budget that you didn’t plan on having, and need not one but two cars that are used but are in good shape, don’t have a bazillion miles on them, and are something that you’d actually want…. not.fun.at.all.

Your options tend to be very limited, and spread out ALL over the place.

We spent hours online, scouting web sites for cars and trucks that fit the bill. Then reading reviews for the car lots because an unfortunate majority of them had really, really, bad ones. Then we spent two full days driving to look at all the ones that made the cut. Jackson, Macon, Lagrange, Newnan, Peachtree City. Trying hard to avoid driving north of Atlanta. Hitting a dead end at every single stop. The second day, after going several places, we drove an hour and a half to Lagrange to see a certain truck. We had called to make sure they had it, was told it was on a sister lot but they would get it there by the time we arrived. We got there and they started showing us a beat up truck that we were not interested in. So we asked about the truck we had called about. It should be on the way they said. So we waited. And waited. And waited.

It’s on the way, they kept saying.

While we waited, our sales girl who was in her early twenties complained to us about how much she hated the other sales guy. Then she tells us about her arguments with her manager, and how he could be a real jerk sometimes. Then she tells us all about her family, and how her mother was in prison because she embezzled money from her employer and also stole 8 people’s identities to get money. Then she asks if we want to go ahead and give her our information so she can do a credit application while we are waiting (for a truck that still remains to be seen). Ummm , I’m gonna go with no. No I do not want to give you my info, thanks. Then we are finally told that they can probably get it there on Monday. “We can’t come on Monday. We want to buy a truck today, y’all said it was on the way here.”

The response… “ No one is on the way with it, and even if they left now our sister lot is 4 hours away in Alabama.”

Well… thank you very much for wasting our time and gas, and having us sit here for nearly two hours waiting on a truck that you knew was not coming.”

We left, feeling defeated, and completely exhausted. We were done. DONE.

We decide to get dinner before heading home, and while we are eating, Jeff sees a listing for a truck at a dealership in our town. It was a new listing that we hadn’t seen. “We’re both tired and I don’t really want to deal with another salesperson today,We can just go tomorrow” he said.

I said, “Let’s just drive through and get a quick look tonight so we know if it’s even worth going to look at tomorrow or if we just need to head to Atlanta.”

So we did. Then a salesman comes out, and we take it for a test drive. Everything looks good. Price was a little higher than we were budgeting for but it was also a newer truck than we were expecting to be able to afford and it was close enough to our budget to make it work. The salesman was super nice, and the whole deal was done within an hour and Jeff was driving that truck home. Praise Jesus, one down and one to go!

The next Friday, Jeff leaves work at lunch and we head out to look at some options for Kate. We were really hopeful about a listing in Macon, so we drove nearly an hour to see that one. The pictures online looked great. But when we saw it in person, there was literally paint peeling off of it. It was dirty and dingy and musty smelling. Someone at that dealership was really good at photoshop. What to do now? All the other options we had were north of Atlanta, and it was too late in the day to head that way. So we headed back towards home. We then went to EVERY SINGLE car lot in our home town, just to be sure we hadn’t missed something before resorting to going to Atlanta the next day. One of them I thought for sure was going to hold us hostage and never let us leave. Every time we would try he would start with, “now let me ask you this!” Ughhh. Get me out of here before I literally crawl out of my skin. Anxiety level is at an all time high at this point, and I’m about ready to make a sprint to the car for a quick getaway before I lose my mind. When we finally got back in the car, I looked at Jeff, and very seriously said, “at this point, I’d rather you shoot me in the foot than go to one more car dealership. Not even kidding. I feel pretty sure at this point that the first level of hell involves unsuccessfully trying to purchase a used car.”

Once again we headed home, Anna Kate in tears and Jeff and I feeling stressed, deflated, defeated, and just plain tired.

We had very few options left. 3 of which required driving to Atlanta, and one in Newnan. Kate had to work Saturday at 12, so we decided to get up early and go see that one when the dealership opened since it was closest. I prayed hard it would be perfect. And so did she because she wouldn’t be able to go with us to look at the others.

The next morning we go in the dealership, and the car is no where on the lot. The salesman says, I know it was here last night. Let me see where it might be. He comes back a while later and says , “So here’s the thing. The car is here, but there’s a problem.”

My heart sinks.

Oh God. Seriously? Why is there ALWAYS a problem!

“Ya see, someone accidentally left the passenger side window down some last night…and ya know it rained… soooo the car is in the garage and they have got fans on it drying out the floorboard where it got wet. We are gonna get it taken care of, and I can still show it to you if you want, but if you want to buy it you would need to leave it here for a few days and we would want to take everything out and make sure it gets completely dry so you don’t end up with any issues.”

Well. Ok then. We are here so lets just see what we’re dealing with.

We go to the garage, and honestly, I can barely feel the dampness in the floorboard. The car looks great. It’s a limited edition version of the same car she had before, with all kinds of upgrades. She liked it, so we took it for a test drive, and signed all the paperwork, and by lunchtime the second car was bought.

We had to leave it for a few days, and they did a great job of making sure there would be no moisture left behind to cause any issues. On Wednesday, Kate and Jeff picked it up, and we had 2 new to us vehicles sitting in the driveway. The car shopping was finally over. Thank you Jesus, and all the praise hands are going up over here! 🙌🏼

So that’s how our last few weeks have gone. It was rough. And to say I was stressed would be an understatement. I just kept thinking, “what are the odds. Really though, what are the odds of a tree falling across the street, and landing on top of not just one, but two of our cars?”

But after it’s all said and done, it was probably a blessing in disguise. Jeff’s car was old. It could have just gone kaput one day, and we would have had nothing to show for it. At least this way, we were able to make enough off of it to put a down payment on his truck so payments would be workable in our budget. And he has needed a truck for a long time, so maybe this was God’s way of providing something we needed.

And we had not had Kate’s car for long, but it had some miles on it, and for all we know maybe it was headed for a break down too. Or, maybe there was a reason that she wasn’t supposed to be driving it. Maybe God took her car out so she wouldn’t be in it at the wrong time, maybe he spared her from an accident. Or maybe God had nothing to do with it at all. It was just a bad thing that happened.

Whatever the reasons, they both ended up with upgraded vehicles, and though the path to getting them was pretty painful, it’s a good reminder that God always works things for our good.

What is it with me and life lesson teaching trees? One holding strong through the storm, and one being uprooted and crashing to the ground. I guess maybe the real lesson here might be that both the strong and the broken have a purpose. Sometimes we are one, sometimes the other, and sometimes, we are a little bit of both.

We may have to walk a tough road for a while to get to it, and we may not understand why something bad had to happen or why things had to change. But if we just trust Him, and keep moving forward, He always gives us something better than what we had before. And it’s ok to get frustrated when you’re walking through the bad stuff. When it seems nothing is going your way. It’s ok to feel like getting shot in the foot would be a better option than walking through whatever trial you’re in for one more second. We’re human, and life can be hard. But at the end of the day, just remind yourself that He is faithful and wants what’s best for you. And one way or another it will all work out in the end, and some Saturday morning you too will wake up like I did, thankful for a good nights rest and counting the blessings, and say, “This is a glorious Saturday morning.”

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

The Pause

Four months. Has it really been four months since the last time I wrote something here? Honestly, it’s probably been at least 2 and a half since I’ve written anything at all. Time has been a funny thing lately. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels as though it’s moving faster. 

It’s just been a busy year I guess. But also, I think for me, it’s kind of become the year of the pause. Some sort of in between space,a transition of sorts, in many aspects of my life. Our kids for instance. 

Kate is 16 now. Halfway through high school. The in between space of being our baby girl, and nearly an adult. The space where we have to learn to let go on so many levels, and let her find her own way. The space where they have one foot out in the world, and yet we want so much to protect them still. I’ve always been a bit of an overprotective Mama, so it’s a really tough space for me. Navigating High school, newfound freedom that comes with driving, a part time job ….and boys. It’s a whole new world when they turn 16. That tug of war that happens with the holding on tight and the loosening of the grip, never really knowing if you’re getting the balance quite right. But, I’ve been here before. And I’ve seen the other side. So I know that although I most certainly didn’t get everything right the first time, and I’ll likely miss the mark on quite a few occasions this time around too, in the end, as long as they know ultimately we are on their side and just want the very best for them, that’s really the only thing you have to get right. 

Emily is still acing college. In the next year or so, she will be deciding where to apply for Grad school. Some of the options she has considered could possibly take her far from us. But for now, I’m just trying not to think about it and just enjoy this space of the in between. I didn’t quite get her back for the summer as she decided to stay at school and take classes for the summer semester. But she has been home for several weekend visits. 

And she’s really stepped up in the big sister role. I actually let Kate drive herself to go see her. It’s a 2 and a half hour drive, and the furthest she’s ever gone on her own. They spent the day together shopping, eating sushi and getting ice cream. There were so many years that they argued and annoyed each other. They are SO very different. But over the years I have always told them that one day, they would grow to appreciate each other. That one day, they would truly enjoy each other’s company. That despite their differences, they would eventually see that they are more alike than they thought. I would always tell them that one day, they would be so thankful to have each other, that they would be the best of friends and wouldn’t be able to imagine a world without one another to share it with. I have such a strong bond with my sisters, (and brothers) and I’ve always prayed the same for my girls. I’m beginning to see that coming to fruition with the two of them, and there’s not much that makes a Mama’s heart happier than seeing her kids develop that friendship and supporting each other, and knowing they will always have each other to lean on and share life with. 

In our church life, we’ve also found ourselves somewhere in a space of transition. Feeling like we might be going in a different direction, but not quite clear what that direction is yet, so just kind of hanging out. And I’m ok with that for now. 
Jeff and I are good. One reason I haven’t spent as much time writing lately is that I haven’t really had any days at home alone. There just haven’t been any days that someone else wasn’t here, or that we didn’t have something going on or somewhere to be. I really need several hours of being alone to write. It’s the only way I can focus and not be distracted. It can be done with others around, but it’s just really not fair to them, because when I write, everything else becomes background noise and fades away. So I really can’t write and be present with anyone. And while I suppose I could plan to wake up at 4 in the morning and write before anyone else gets up… let’s just be real here…it’s just not a viable thing for me at this point in my life. I have trouble falling asleep at night, so getting up at 4 AM would only serve to make me a zombie. And I certainly don’t find my writing inspiration when I’m in a half awake state. So there’s that. 
But I think outside of that, a large part of why I haven’t written as much this year is because I have used it for so long as therapy, and maybe, I just haven’t needed it as much. Which is really good, right? 

But I know also that it’s not something I want to let fall away. It’s a big part of who I am, and still feels like it’s something of importance, and I believe it can still serve a purpose. Because even though it in large part served as a form of therapy that brought healing and clarity to me, it’s always been very much an offering, a way to help others find their way through whatever difficult path they are facing, a way to build a community of hope, and a way to give back some of the goodness that we’ve been blessed with. 

The flashbacks and triggers that once plagued me day in and day out are now few and far between. Occasionally though, something will pop up. Last week, it was a photo. Just as I was about to go to bed, Jeff came to me, with a pained look of concern on his face, very obviously reluctant to say what he needed to say to me.
– “So, I need to tell you about something. I debated whether to bring it up or not. I don’t want to. But I don’t know what to do about it and know you will probably see it. I’d rather you not have to see it at all but I decided it was better for me to tell you about it and see if you know how to fix it than for it to pop up in your newsfeed and you be mad at me for not warning you or have you think I wanted it there.” 

A friend and coworker of his had reposted a photo from her Facebook memories, and tagged him in it. The photo was of herself, and Jeff, and a small group of students from nursing school on a day trip to the state Capitol for a class they were taking. And there, in the pic with them was the woman Jeff had the affair with, and right behind her stood Jeff, peeking around her shoulder with a goofy grin on his face. 

I’m assuming the woman that posted it, although I’m sure she knew about Jeff’s affair, wasn’t aware of who the other woman was exactly or the fact that she was in that picture with them. She’s a sweet person and I truly don’t believe she would have tagged him in it if she had known. So I can’t blame her for it. But regardless of how or why it got there, it was staring me in the face and it took the breath right out of me the moment I saw it. In my mind, I’d seen them side by side a million times. But this. This was real life. Seeing them together, in an actual real life photo, well, it’s just not something I needed to see. I didn’t know a picture of the two of them together even existed, except for the graduating class photo from the year they graduated. They weren’t beside each other in that one and I haven’t seen it in years. But this one. This one was like a punch in the gut. They weren’t having an affair at the time that this photo was taken, but it was the beginning of their friendship. The bond was being formed, and you could clearly see it. The flirtation was there, and the foundation was being laid for the destruction to come. There they stood, his face right beside hers. And that ‘can’t breathe, stomach aching, heart racing, nausea inducing’ feeling of crushing anxiety washed over me in an instant. Hot tears that I didn’t even feel coming suddenly dripping from my chin. 

-“Please don’t be upset. I really didn’t want you to have to see it but I also didn’t want to hide anything from you. I just don’t know how to get rid of it and get it off my page.” 

I’m thankful for his honesty. It’s something that obviously wasn’t one of his strengths as the old Jeff. So I am grateful that it is prominent in the new version. But I have to say, that pic threw me for a loop. It showed me that though we are so far from the pain of those days, it’s still a lot closer and more present in my heart than I sometimes think. That even though a heart can heal so much, the memory of it all, no matter how deeply buried, can surface quickly, and if we aren’t careful, can set us back. 
So, yes, when I saw that photo, that pain shot right back to the surface like a volcano spewing hot molten lava burning a hole through my heart. So, I did what I’ve learned to do to get past it. I got quiet. I let it run it’s course. Because once the wound is open, ignoring it just gives it a chance to fester untended. I spent the next couple of hours lying awake, working through the sadness and anxiety and fighting the battle of letting the grief run it’s course and ridding my mind of the image now ingrained at the forefront. Drifting from heartache to numbness and back again, sifting through my thoughts to push that painful image out of sight. Praying it away, and making an effort to turn my thoughts to the present goodness and away from the pain of the past. Finally falling asleep from a weary exhaustion of mind, body and spirit. And the next morning, I got up, determined to not let that photo and those memories get the best of me. I chatted with a few of my support group friends. So thankful for those girls. Sometimes, you just need people that get it. People that can not only relate to what you are feeling, that can feel that depth of sadness in a way that only someone that’s been there can, and can not only encourage you and lift you up, but somehow even find a way to inject some humor into a very not funny subject and have you giggling by the end of the thread. I really, really love them. 

Anyway, I showed Jeff how to untag himself in that photo, then resolved to put it behind us, and enjoy our beautiful weekend at the lake. And that’s exactly what we did. 

So, yes, there are still occasional reminders, but mostly, our days are good. 

We’re in the in between. Far, far removed from the worst, but also aware that we haven’t fully arrived at our best. I’m somewhere in the middle, knowing where we came from, knowing what a good place we are in now, and knowing that because of that I can and should feel more secure, yet also still struggling to allow myself to actually REST in it. 

We are here in the pause. And I think it’s a necessary place. It’s where I am learning to be still. To just be present in the place we are in. Spending time with Jeff, with my girls, with my family and friends. Finding some sort of normalcy in our everyday lives. Spending less time looking back, but also not trying to look too far ahead. Allowing myself a quiet space of time to just be, and rest in the goodness of the here and now. 
There’s more to come. Of that I’m sure. Lessons to be learned, places to go, new memories to be made, people to meet, and books to be written. 

But for now, I’m content here in the pause. Resting. Healing. Growing. Finding our way. Finding some joy. Learning to relax a little. Learning to know the importance of the past and how it’s shaped us, and the importance of allowing God to use our lives and our story to bring hope to others, but not allowing what happened in the past to define or be the underwriting narrative to EVERY moment of our existence. Trying REALLY hard to remind myself that I don’t have to work so hard to stay two steps ahead of whatever might be coming because God’s already there. 

I’m just trying to enjoy the pause, letting the lessons and the goodness really settle in to my spirit, and do that deep quiet necessary work in my soul. I’ll just wait here in the pause for whatever comes next, and believe with all my heart that whatever that is, it’s gonna be really, really good. 
❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy 

Leave some room

I’m a planner. I am NOT big on surprises. Well, I guess sometimes I am. Depends on the situation. 
Surprise gifts…flowers…chocolate covered strawberries..gift cards…a clean house…unexpected cash… an all expenses paid trip to somewhere amazing… those are all surprises I’m on board with. 

But other things… surprise parties for instance. Not so much. Well….again it depends on the situation. If it’s been well planned out and held somewhere other than my own home and I’m wearing something really cute that day, and there’s lots of good food, then I could get on board with that. But if you happen to realize 2 days before my birthday that maybe you should do something special and invite a ton of people to our home which hasn’t been cleaned really well in a bit because we haven’t been home much and you don’t have food planned except for cake and are just completely winging it and I find out at the last minute (thank God because my house really was a disaster zone), and panic because I have one day to get my house and outdoors in order and presentable for guests when all I really want to do is sleep in and enjoy my day off, and you can’t help with ANY of it because you have to work… yeah, not a big fan of that.😂 (true story of my 40th birthday.) 

He meant well y’all. But Jeff is NOT a planner, and he doesn’t always think of all the other stuff that goes along with things. He just gets an idea, decides that everything will be fine and doesn’t worry about all the little stuff. I, on the other hand, analyze EVERYTHING. Every. Little. Detail. We are literally polar opposites. 

Take planning a trip for instance. When I plan a trip, I spend hours finding THE perfect place to stay. I save a list of possibilities, then go through them with a fine toothed comb. Location. Price. Gotta get the best deal. That’s super important. But also, I like luxury. If I’m gonna sleep in a bed other than my own, you better believe it has to have pretty covers. Old worn out tropical bedspreads just will not do. 

Just. No. 

I want nice furniture, updated decor, and only the prettiest, fluffiest, bedding will do. And a nice view doesn’t hurt either. The planning is fun for me, even though it can be a lot of work. I truly enjoy it, right up until it’s time to make a final decision. Because…duh,  it’s FINAL. And I have to get it right, so I need to be sure. And suddenly, I start questioning my choices. And then it’s “ALL ABOARD THE STRUGGLE BUS!” 

Don’t worry about buckling your safety belt, people. This bus isn’t going anywhere for a while. It’s stuck right there in the land of second guessing and indecision. 🙄 

It drives Jeff a little nuts. “Just pick one. They’re all fine.” Umm, No. I’m not looking for fine. I’m looking for as close to perfect within our price range as I can get. And I’m GOING to find it. Part of it is that this is just who I am. And I’m good at it. Finding deals and such. I’m pretty sure I’d make an awesome travel agent. And part of it is just my innate need to make everything as close to perfect as possible for the people I love, and for myself. There’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes from planning the perfect getaway and then seeing it come to fruition. This is pretty much true in almost everything I do. Analyze, research, plan,second guess, start all over, narrow down, then hesitantly and anxiously force myself to make a decision. Whether it be picking out a paint color (or even just lunch😂) or planning a trip or basically any situation that requires making a decision, it’s all the same process. What are the possibilities? What are the risks? How will this affect this person or this situation? I like to be informed, and have as much information as possible to ensure that I make the best decisions I can. This can be a really good thing. It’s smart, and responsible, and all that work can create some really amazing outcomes. But it can also be a bad thing. Because sometimes our need to plan everything out and make everything perfect keeps us from the plans God has for us. Sometimes our inability or unwillingness to be spontaneous or take a risk keeps us from the unexpected blessings we might find if we would just simply say yes, instead of saying, “well maybe…..let me chart this all out first and plan out every aspect so that I can make sure everything works out for the best.” 

 Because in minds like mine, “no surprises” really means “no disappointments”. 

And “no risks” really means “no chance of failure”. 

Control equals safety. 

And safety ensures happiness. 

This is how the analytical, perfectionist mind works. Add to that mindset the  “been blindsided and broken once and never want to go there again” aspect and the whole thing goes into OVERDRIVE.  
Jeff on the other hand; he just sees something, says that would be fun, and has no problem whatsoever saying yes to it with no planning, no research… just pack up and go. This method is something my type A brain has trouble comprehending and to be completely honest, gives me a bit of a panic attack. Ok. Not a bit of a panic attack. Full on heart palpitations. My brain can’t handle it. What if in the rush I forget to pack something? What if this deal was a scam? What if it looks nothing like the pictures? What if the location is unsafe? What if this paint color is all wrong? What if the shrimp isn’t good and I wish I’d gotten the steak instead? What if ,what if , what if.  But not Jeff… he just goes with it and doesn’t worry about it at all.

Recently, he did this very thing. 
I’m sitting at work, and get a text from him. It’s a picture of a pretty hotel room at the beach. I, not really sure why he sent it, respond, “looks nice!” I look up the place, just for future reference, (we had talked about going to the beach at some point this year, so I assume that’s why he sent it, but we had made no definitive plans, as our main vacation goal this year is Disney). I see that it’s fairly new, and has good reviews. So I text again and say, “it has good reviews, we will have to keep this one in mind.” 

He responds, “We could leave Friday and come home Saturday.” 

Me: “umm, this Friday? For ONE day? We wouldn’t be able to leave until after you get off work so we wouldn’t get there until late that evening and have to check out at 11 the next morning… I don’t really want to drive 5 hours to go to bed and get up and drive back home. It looks really nice but I’d rather have a little more time than that if I’m going that far and also have more time to plan for it.”

A little time goes by.

I get another text. 

“Ok, done.”

🤷🏻‍♀️ 

Wondering if he meant to text someone else or if I’ve somehow missed a text, I say, “ok, done what???”

“I booked it. Since I have to work Friday, we will just go early Saturday and come home Sunday.”

“Ummm. Huh?”

I gotta say, I was a little teensy bit mad. Mostly anxious, but a little mad that he just booked it. He knows I like to have time to plan things out. Y’all remember my issues with control. 🙄 I have a hard time committing to anything short notice. For instance, don’t tell me at 4 that I have to go to a social event at 5 and be all social and stuff. My introvert side needs more time to transition and prepare my extrovert qualities. My brain needs a little more time to process these things and mentally prepare. That’s what it feels like anyway. It’s not really true, time to prepare or not, when I get there I’m fine, but not having time to mentally prepare or plan things out brings on anxiety. It’s more the thought of it that is the problem than the actual getting through the event itself. And I had basically less than 2 days to process that this trip was happening and get everything done. For a ONE night trip. I wasn’t really feeling like this trip was worth the stress and anxiety I was feeling. 

But Jeff. He was OVER THE MOON. Not a worry in the world, y’all . He didn’t care about the ten hours we’d be spending in the car in a less than 36 hour period. He didn’t care that we knew nothing about the hotel other than the pic looked nice. He didn’t care that we didn’t have a restaurant planned out for dinner or that Kate had basically one day to find a friend that could go with her or that we had not even checked to see what the weather would be like to know if we’d even get to sit on the beach. 

He was happy as a lark at the prospect of getting up at 4 am, spending a few hours on the beach, eating some seafood and then waking up the next day and driving ALLLL the way back home. Happy as a lark, I tell ya. 

Sometimes I really wish I was more like him in this sense. The lightness of being able to just get up and go, sights unseen, things unplanned, and see where it takes you. Not worrying about disappointing anyone or being disappointed or things not going as planned. Just saying “hey this could be good”, and hoping for the best and having the ability to do that and not have the least bit of anxiety about it at all. I’m envious of it, truth be told. 

But in reality, this type of personality can have its drawbacks too. The ability or even just the tendency to make decisions in the moment, without thinking about all the possible outcomes or consequences…in certain situations can be a really bad thing. I think it’s part of the reason the affair happened so easily for him. He wasn’t thinking about the details of how this could affect his life or anyone else’s. He wasn’t analyzing the consequences. He just made a decision in the moment. A really, really bad one. 

There are good points and bad points to both the spontaneous personality and the planner personality. So it’s extremely important to recognize how our tendencies can be used for our benefit and the benefit of others yet also be aware of where and when we need to reign them in to avoid the negative sides of our personality types and not allow them to keep us from living our best life. 

So. Back to this impromptu one night trip to the beach. I wasn’t super excited about it. I love the beach. LOVE it. But the thought of all those hours in the car, the very little time I had to get things ready and packed, all for just a few hours on the beach… I just wasn’t thrilled about it. After a full day of a good bit of anxiety, maybe a little snarkiness… sorry Jeff, and the fact that the reservation was non refundable, I decided I may as well get on board with this overnight trip because it was happening. I decided to just focus on enjoying what little time we would have to sit on the beach. 
We left the house at 4 AM. Arrived around 10:30, but the time zone there is an hour ahead so we gained an hour. Yay for extra beach time! We took our beach chairs out by the water, plopped ourselves down in them and sat right there watching the birds fly over and listening to the sound of the waves and soaking up every ounce of sunshine until the wind got a little too chilly to stay out any longer. And in that moment, I have to say, it was glorious. Worth every minute we spent in that car. And I was glad he had made that spontaneous decision that I’d been so anxious about the day before. I looked over at him and said, “ok bud, I gotta hand it to ya, you did good.”  Our room was beautiful, with perfect white fluffy covers on the bed and an amazing view. While sitting on the beach, I figure out that our friends’ new beach house is literally a couple of blocks down from our hotel. We text and decide to go over and have a visit after dinner. We find a restaurant nearby to get that seafood dinner Jeff had been craving. Then Jeff and I walk over to meet our sweet and fabulous friends. As we sit on their porch, we notice one of the cars sitting in their driveway is the exact car Kate has been saying she wants. She’s turning 16 soon, and we had been looking for a used car to get for her. We had only found a couple so far that met our specifications and those, although being within our maximum price limit, were more than we really hoped to spend and were being sold by car dealerships we weren’t real confident in the trustworthiness of. 

We start chatting and ask how they like the car. They say “oh it’s been a great car. We really have liked it. But we are kind of wanting something newer so I’m taking it to my brothers dealership to get him to sell it for me tomorrow.”

Jeff and I look at each other. 

“You’re selling it? Tomorrow?”

Yep. After asking what they wanted for it, we go on to tell them that that is the specific car that we’d been looking for and maybe you don’t have to take it to the dealership and could just sell it to us! 

 I mean seriously, y’all. What are the odds?

The next morning before heading out, we go by to let Kate check out the car. 

I wish y’all could have seen the way her face lit up the minute she saw it. 

We had told her to just have a look and that if she wasn’t sure it was what she wanted we would keep looking.

The minute she saw it she said “That IS my car.” She took it for a test drive, and when she got back, she said, “This is my car. I just feel it. It just feels right, like this is supposed to be mine.”

So we went home, took care of all the paperwork, and a week later we met to pick up the car. Just look at this face. Pure joy.


You guys. Do you even fully understand what happened here? Jeff randomly spots a hotel deal online. Books it spontaneously and gives me a panic attack because , hello, obsessive planner over here. 🙋🏻‍♀️ We drive 5 hours, and find that our friends live literally across the street from where we are. We end up walking over later, and they have the exact car Kate is interested in. AND lo and behold, they are planning on taking it to sell the VERY next day. Now let’s add to that the fact that it’s a great price, been well taken care of, and these are people that we know and can trust implicitly on the quality of the car we are getting. Then add to that the instant connection Kate felt from the moment she laid eyes on it. 

I don’t care who you are, there’s not a person on this planet that could convince me that every aspect and detail of this impromptu trip to the beach was not planned out to the letter by God Himself. There we were, on a trip that I never would have agreed to, in that specific hotel at that specific beach across from these amazing friends that just happened to have the EXACT car Kate wanted and just happened to be planning to sell it it the very next day. And at a perfect price point within our budget. 

We were meant to be at that specific place, at that specific time, so that we could receive the blessing God had set out for us. 

Y’all. That’s how much he loves us. THIS is how loved we are. He wants every good thing for us. He wants us to have the desires of our hearts. In this case, it was the very car Kate dreamed of. 

You’ll never convince me that these things are coincidental. 

Thinking back over this chain of events, I came to a huge realization. How many times does He have a perfect plan set out for me, and I get in His way? How many blessings do I miss out on by trying to make sure everything makes sense and is perfectly planned out the way I think it should be?

Maybe you are spontaneous and worry free like Jeff. Maybe sometimes that gets you into trouble if you’re not careful, and maybe other times it serves you and the people you love very well. Or maybe you’re more like me. A careful planner, intentional and rational and a bit of a perfectionist. Some might even use the words control freak, but I prefer the words cautious or analytical thinker… they just sound nicer and less crazy. Ha. 🤣  And maybe being such an over thinker serves you and the people you love very well also, but it probably also brings a lot of limits to your life, and keeps you from experiencing a lot of the unexpected good things that you might find if you weren’t so busy trying to plan and control everything all of the time. 
Jeff and I in a lot of ways are complete opposites. It can be a problem in a relationship if you focus on those negative sides of our polar opposite personality types. But if you focus on the positive aspects, our different personalities can create a good balance. 

Jeff has a tendency to be a spur of the moment, not think everything through decision maker. And he still leans towards that with the fun stuff like trips and such. But since his affair, he has learned to think beyond the moment in situations that really matter. In situations that affect not just his life but the effects of his decisions on the happiness and wellbeing of others. 

Balance. There’s a balance there now that was missing before. 

I overthink everything. I rarely make a spur of the moment decision. I NEED to know everything first. Uncertainty is the scariest thing in the world to me. But it shouldn’t be. 

Because even if everything is uncertain, one thing is certain. God is good. He is So good. 

And He has all kinds of good surprises for us. I can plan out every moment and try to control every situation in my life and I’ll find a lot of goodness there. Because that’s how good He is. He knows my heart and loves me so much that He is going to bring goodness to me even when I’m standing in His way. But it’s the times that I let go, and go with the flow of things, stepping outside of my control, and out of His way, that He really shows out. 

So balance is key to that. Being true to the planner and analyzer that I am because that’s how he made me, and I believe He uses that to lead me where I need to be sometimes, but also allowing the unplanned to have a place in my life too. 

Because His plans are always better than mine. Always. 

I think although I drive Jeff crazy with my decision making processes, he’s somewhat thankful for it sometimes because it can help to keep us out of trouble and sometimes leads to the very best things for us. And although it always initially gives me some anxiety, I’m thankful to have a husband that makes spontaneous decisions sometimes that force me to do things I would have said no to. Because sometimes those places outside of our comfort zones are the places we find our biggest blessings or purposes. 

The key to happiness is finding the balance. 

Sometimes it’s taking a minute to consider the consequences and effects of your decisions on yourself and others. 

Sometimes it’s knowing when to let go of control. 

Sometimes it’s stepping out of your comfort zone. 

Sometimes it’s saying no to the things that can bring pain to others. 

Sometimes it’s saying yes without having to have everything planned out. 

Mostly for me, it’s learning to simply get out of God’s way and let him do what He does best. It’s knowing that it’s ok to make super informed decisions , and it’s ok to make detailed plans, but that I should always LEAVE SOME ROOM. 

I should always make sure to leave some space for God to show me His plans. Because it’s in that space that we find the best gifts, the greatest joys, and our very best life. 
❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy