The Falling away

It’s the first official day of Fall. It’s still pretty hot here in Georgia, but you can feel it coming. You can feel it in the crispness of the cooler air early in the morning, and in the dusk that sets in just a little earlier at the end of every day. It used to be my favorite time of the year. It brought a cool breeze. It brought beautiful warm colors. It brought the ability to throw on cozy sweaters and jeans. It brought warm comfort foods and everything pumpkin. It brought bonfires and roasted marshmallows and Saturday night football viewing parties. Don’t get confused, I know y’all know I really don’t care about the football games. I’m just there for the snacks and the company, yeah, mostly the snacks. Ha. 

But I CAN tell you which team will win the game with at least 95% accuracy, based on my personally developed “super scientific uniform theory”. I kid you not. This is a real thing. Basically, I pick the winning team based on the uniform they are wearing. The colors, the fit, the presentation, I take it all into account, all the way from the helmet down to the shoes. Laugh if you want, Jeff certainly doubted my “super scientific theory” too. Until he saw how many times I was right! I guess that’s a little off subject. So I’ll get back to what I was saying. Y’all just let me know if you want me to choose a winner for ya. 😂

Fall still brings all of those things. But two years ago, Fall brought me something else. Something that would change life as I knew it forever. Well, in reality, that one Fall day didn’t alter the course of my life. The day Jeff first entertained the thought of becoming involved with her is the day that my life changed forever. My world was dismantled bit by bit with every thought, every text, every conversation, every meeting between the two of them over the course of that year. So that particular September day was not the one day my world was destroyed, it was just the day that I came to the full realization of it. 

Last year, I struggled a lot with it. The triggers were everywhere. The thoughts and memories sometimes overwhelming. Because that same crispness in the air that I used to love so much was the same crisp air that I ran out into to try and catch my breath on that awful day. Because those football games reminded me of the one he was getting ready to go watch when I saw those messages on his phone that were proof of his betrayal. 

This year, it doesn’t have as strong of an effect. I can’t say the anniversary of that day hasn’t affected me at all. I still had some level of anxiety about it. But it was more of an annoying quiet hum than the load roar that it used to be. 

Last year, I had wanted to plan something to mark the day. Something to try and give it new meaning, and new memories. This year, I didn’t feel as strongly about it. Earlier in the year I bought tickets to go to a Kari Jobe concert. When I saw the announcement for the concert, and saw that it was local and just happened to be on September 10th, I figured what better way to spend that evening than filling it with worship music? I figured that would be a good way to drown out any negative feelings that crept in that day. 

As it turned out, D-day came and went without leaving much of a footprint this year. September 10th fell on a Sunday. We got up and went to church as usual. We went to lunch together , just the two of us. Jeff was actually the one to bring it up. “So, today’s our happy anniversary I guess? Well, more of an unhappy anniversary? But happy because we survived. And because our lives are so much better now than they were.”

And that was the extent of our acknowledgment of the day. As it turned out, the concert, which I had actually forgotten about until that afternoon, was cancelled last minute because of Hurricane Irma’s impending arrival. So we stayed home, cozy on our sofa with bowls of chili and watched some tv. 

I guess my feelings kind of go back and forth on what this day should be. A part of me wants to fill it up with new things and new memories to give it new meaning. But another part wants to let it pass with no acknowledgment at all. To take its power away by making it just another day on the calendar. 

I think the reality will fall somewhere between the two. Because in reality, I’ll most likely never forget the date, so it will always be acknowledged in some way. But I never want it to be in a way that glorifies the ugliness of that day, or gives those memories the power to ruin my present day. Because September 10th, 2017, is not September 10th, 2015. And September 10th, 2018 and every September 10th after that won’t be either. That day is gone. It happened, and we can’t change it. And every year, though the date may be the same, our lives are not the same. So we will acknowledge it, but only with a sense of gratitude of the goodness that we live in now, and that we have put one more year in between us and that terrible time in our lives. 

When I think about it, it’s kind of fitting that this day happened in the Fall. 

We don’t necessarily think about it, because it can be so deceivingly beautiful, but in essence, Fall is a process of death. The vibrant green trees slowly fade to warm shades of yellow, orange, and red. They look so lovely on the outside, that we don’t often think about what might be happening on the inside. 

Slowly, the colorful leaves begin to loosen, and one by one, fall to the ground. There’s only a few at first, so we just walk through them, hearing them crunch under our feet but not really giving them much thought. But as the wind gets stronger, the dying leaves become weaker, and suddenly they are everywhere, covering the ground. Smothering the grass beneath them. 

Hiding the walkways and covering the paths that we could once see clearly. 

It is messy, this falling away. And once the leaves have all fallen, the trees look painfully bare. The falling away is followed by a season of emptiness. Or at least that’s the way it seems. But it is the Fall, the shedding of the old, that makes way for the new. It’s a painful process. There’s no getting around that. But it’s the only way to shed what no longer belongs. To get rid of the diseased leaves. To reset. So that when the Spring comes, and it always comes, there’s nothing hindering its growth. And what grows from those empty branches is fuller, and more beautiful than what it was before. So much stronger than it was before the falling away. 

The seasons of life can be painful. But there is beauty in all of it. Even in the falling away. Even in the dead of the barren winter. Because it’s making way for the beauty of Spring, and the fullness of Summer. Some years it brings varying levels of death and life. Sometimes the changes are small, and we come through it mostly unscathed, barely even noticing that the seasons changed, and other times, the changing of the seasons of our lives is so sudden and so devastating that we wonder if the winter will ever end. 

Don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. It always comes. And in the meantime, look for the beauty in the season you’re in. It’s there. It’s always there. 

When the spring comes, you’ll be stronger. You’ll be fuller. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Yes, there may be losses to mourn. You’ll certainly never be the same. You may bear the scars of the storms you weathered through the winter. But that will be what sets you apart. It will be your mark of the goodness of God. A symbol of how we can survive bad things. How the storms can wound us, but that those wounds can heal. A symbol of how all that we know can fall away, lost forever, but that something beautiful can grow in its place. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

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The fullness of now

Summer in Georgia is hot. Like sweltering, sticky, oppressively hot. The kind of hot that makes you imagine you’re a stick of butter melting into a puddle on the pavement. Which is why I find myself sitting in my room, lights off, curtains drawn, air conditioner blaring and fan blowing. 

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday afternoon nap in Georgia. A super cold dark room and some fluffy covers is like heaven when it’s 100 degrees outside. It’s much too hot to go out and do anything, so might as well enjoy just being still for a bit. 

It also gives me an excuse to sit and write, which is not something I’ve done much of this month, and I’ve missed it.
It’s been about a month since I last posted, and things have been going really well. We’ve spent some time at the lake, laid out by the pool, seen a few movies, and done some shopping for my oldest daughter’s apartment. I’m still pretending that she’s not moving out on her own in a couple of weeks. Mama’s. Not. Ready. Oh my heart. 

Overall we’ve had a great month. I did, however, have a couple of days where I struggled a little. Nothing really noticeable to anyone, (except Jeff, as usual). No particular reason, just had a hard time keeping my thoughts focused on the good ones and pushing out the bad ones. It happens occasionally. No major incident, just thoughts of insecurity, doubt, fear… you know, the usual suspects. 

They’re liars and thieves , those three. Really convincing ones. They are especially efficient in their attack. They bombard you with reminders of the past, and then they use that to fill you with fear of what could happen in the future. Because if they can keep you busy flip flopping back and forth from the pain of your yesterdays to the fear of what could happen in your tomorrows, they can very effectively steal today. And that’s all they want. Because your today, your now, is everything. Now is all we ever really have. 

So when you find yourself falling prey to doubt, insecurity, and fear, it’s important to get control of that as quickly as possible. 

To reclaim your now.

I clawed my way out of that fog and was feeling much better. But it seems those thieves wanted one more go at me that night.

We sat on the sofa that evening and decided we would find a new tv series to watch on Netflix. We weren’t sure what to choose. It can be difficult sometimes to find things that we can watch. A lot of the popular series are extremely explicit, and we try to avoid that due to the former porn issue. Some may think that’s silly, but it’s no different than the fact that you wouldn’t set up a fully stocked bar in front of an alcoholic or offer a recovering drug addict a sample of cocaine. They may be able to control it, but why take the risk?

Then there’s all the shows that have affairs as part of the main story line. Sometimes it bothers me and sometimes it doesn’t. It mostly just depends on how similar the details are to mine. 

Anyway, I had heard my sister and some coworkers talking about this series that they loved. They talked about it all the time, and so I suggested maybe we should try that one. 

I really had no idea what it was about, just that it was about this influential family that had all these secrets and that there were all these twists and turns to keep things interesting.

So we get cozy on the couch, start the show, and the scene, the very first scene, was a couple having sex in the back seat of a car. 

Of all the things. 

OF ALL THE THINGS. 

It had to be that. 

It could have started with any other sex scene and I wouldn’t have thought anything about it. I don’t think it was super explicit or even involved much nudity, if any. Actually I’m really not sure if it did or not because I completely checked out. 

I saw 3, maybe 5 seconds of it. 

That’s when my brain did that thing it does and takes me somewhere else. Somewhere that I never actually saw with my own eyes but have seen in my minds eye a million different torturous times. 

I didn’t see the actors on the screen anymore. 

I saw Jeff. With her. 

That’s all I can see. His face, her hair, his hands. And I look away. I can’t look. Make it go away. Make it go away. Please make it go away.

But it doesn’t help because the image isn’t only on the screen. It’s in my head. And I just want it to stop. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear it. It was only a few seconds. But it was long enough. Long enough for the panic to set in. For the painful tightening in my chest. For the knot to form in my stomach. For my lungs to forget how to breathe again.  

“Is that what it was like?” I hear myself ask him, realizing that I actually said it out loud and not just in my head.

Another one of those questions that I need to know and yet also do not need to know. 

His face is pained, his hands searching feverishly for the remote. 

I leave the room, busy myself with loading some laundry to try and clear my head and learn to breathe correctly again. 

It happens. 

It kind of stinks that something as simple as watching tv can be so complicated. It kind of stinks that there are a lot of simple things that bring the past to the surface. 

But it is what it is. We deal with it, and we move on. 

A few days ago, I made the executive decision to watch the show anyway. 

It was just an unfortunate coincidence that it started with that particular scene. 

We just skipped to the next scene and started there. 

We have to live our lives, regardless of the triggers. I do my best to avoid them. The ones that I can’t avoid, I deal with the best that I can. Thankfully, there have been very few this year that affected me that way. 

I’ve gotten pretty good at controlling the thoughts. 

I can’t say that I’ve gone a whole day yet that I haven’t had some kind of thoughts about the affair. I guess I’m not sure that will ever happen. 

But it rarely affects my now. There’s more of a separation. The thoughts are there. But the pain attached to them is not as overpowering as it once was on a daily basis anyway. 

The goodness of my now has gotten bigger than the pain of my past. 

And I like to imagine that it will continue to get bigger, so much so that the panic stops even with the bigger triggers at some point.

Those few minutes were tough. They took me back to a very painful time. And it can be overwhelming. 

But it was only a few minutes. I’ve had a million other great minutes.  

And all I have to do is remember that the panic, the pain, those things are not my now. 

My now is full of goodness.                                    My now is full of joy.                                               My now is simply….full. 
❤️                                                                             Amy Thurston Gordy

Forgiveness. It’s no Lifetime Christmas movie.

A few weeks ago I decided to face my struggle with forgiveness head on. I struggle with it a lot. There’s the rational side of me that says my anger and contempt for her is justified. Not to mention I just can’t figure out how I’m supposed to think of the woman that had an affair with my husband and have any kind of good feelings about her or not feel the anger or see her as anything but pure evil. I just can’t fathom how it’s possible. The other side says that I should be Christ like. Extending mercy and grace and forgiveness and seeing her as a child of God that simply made a bad decision. This side says that I should care about her soul just as much as anyone else’s. 
So it sounds simple enough. Choose to be the good side. In my mind I can choose it. I can say yes, I want to be that. But then I think of her, and feel nothing but anger. So I can say it. I can say it over and over, but it seems insincere. Because I don’t really feel any differently about her. 

Yep. Forgiveness is hard. 
Jeff and I are doing great. There’s been a lot of healing, a lot of moving forward, and a whole lot of happy. We have found an unimaginable amount of redemption in this past year and a half. So this unforgiveness I held for the other woman seemed to be the one major thing still holding me back. Keeping me shackled to the past. And the thing I hated most about it, was the fact that it gave her power over my feelings, my emotions, and ultimately my healing. And she doesn’t deserve to have that. 
So what does she deserve? That’s a loaded question. 

And probably not the best one to ask me. 

I should definitely not be the one to pull the trigger on that one. 

Because my first instinct is that she deserves a punch in the nose. 

Shame. 

Heartache.

Distress.

Unhappiness.

Bad luck. 

For her skin to shrivel up.

Her hair to fall out. 

Her tires to go flat.

For birds to poop on her head…

..Every. Single. Day.

To gain 50 pounds and undo every bit of that liposuction she had. 

Bed bugs. 

For her husband to leave her. 

For her friends to turn their back on her.

To be alone. 

Miserable and alone.

(And here y’all were all thinking that I was all sweet and precious. I am. Like 99.5% sweet and precious. But that other .5%…maybe not so much. You probably really don’t want to be on the receiving end of that .5% 😜)

But then…that voice of reason: 

“Well then, does Jeff deserve all of that too?”

Ugh. 

I don’t want any of those things for him. 

Did he deserve them? At one time, I’d have to say yes. Yes he did. All that and more. 

But he was sorry. He is sorry. And he isn’t just sorry, he’s changed. 

Reformed. Renewed. Rebuilt, reborn, transformed , whatever name you want to give it. He is that. He embodies it. He lives it out every single day. 

He’s not the same person that made those bad choices. I forgive him. I forgive him for being that person. And I am thankful for the person he is now. 

Sounds easy right? In some ways, I guess it is. Now. But in truth it’s been nearly two years of continual hard work, effort, and intentional persistence on both of our parts. It did not happen overnight.

I forgave him then, but every day when the reminders come I have to choose to remember who he is now instead of letting the memories be the filter of how I see him, and I have to choose to forgive him over and over and over again. 

In a conversation about infidelity recently, a friend made the comment that when incidents happen in which trust is broken or brought into question, “those things never really go away.” And a truer statement has never been spoken. They can’t be undone. They can’t be erased. 

Ever. 

If only people were reminded of the levity of that before making such a mistake, many hearts, lives, and marriages would still be intact.

But Jeff’s renewed sense of self, commitment to God, and dedication to our marriage makes it pretty easy to choose to forgive him. To love him more than ever before. Even when the reminders come. 

And they come less frequently. I mean, there’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t have some thought about it. But not necessarily in the painful ways. It’s just a matter of fact. It’s my story. It’s our story. And it is what it is. I have to accept that. But occasionally I’ll still have a trigger. A few weeks ago it was a song I heard while driving home. I had never heard it before and I have yet to hear it since. So I couldn’t tell you what it was or who sings it. It was a duet, where the girl is singing something along the lines of “what if you’re not the one, what if you break my heart, what if you leave me… and the guy sings something like, “but what if I am the one, what if we grow old together, what if you’re my last first kiss”. I don’t know why any reference to that destroys me the way it does. But it just tears me apart. 

His last first kiss was supposed to be me. His last first everything was supposed to be me. It was mine. Mine. And she took it. And I can never be his last first kiss again. 

It will forever be her. 

And that’s a crack in my heart that can’t be easily repaired. You can’t restore that. Jeff can’t give me that back. That’s one of the cracks that only Jesus can fill in. And boy, does He ever have His work cut out for Him. Because the only thing I could think about in that moment listening to the words to that song about being his last first kiss was how much I hate her for that. 

I hate her for that. 
Wait…. I still hate her? I thought I’d moved beyond the level of hate. But that feeling I had when I thought of her taking that last first kiss, as much as I’d like to be able to deny it, is undeniable hatred.
The dictionary defines hatred as this: Extreme dislike, disgust, resentment. 

Yep, that pretty much covers it. 

I hate her for everything she stole from me. I hate her for never taking responsibility for her part in it and I hate her for never saying she was sorry and I hate her most of all for making me hate. I hate her for not wanting to do the right thing and for not having the decency or the conviction to reach out with a simple heartfelt apology for the pain she inflicted. 

Whew. That’s a lot. And here I had been thinking that I had made some progress in this area. I’d been praying about it. I’d been reading about it. And I don’t hate her at a level where I sit around constantly and think about how much I hate her. I’ve got way too much good stuff in my life to just sit and let thoughts of her consume my days. But in that moment, the hatred that I thought I had downgraded to a slightly less extreme dislike came back to the surface just as easily as a fizz bubble in a freshly poured Coca Cola. And I have to say, acknowledging this fact burns a little in the same way those fizzy bubbles sometimes do. 

And that’s when I realized that I’ve got a long way to go in this forgiveness stuff. 

And after hearing that song that day, I kind of put the whole subject on the back burner for a couple of weeks. 

Because it was….

Just. Too. Much. 

So I sat it aside and stopped thinking about forgiveness and stopped reading about forgiveness and basically just said “hey, I tried. Who needs it anyway? We’re doing really, really good.” 

And honestly I just enjoyed the heck out of these last couple of weeks. I had a week off of work and we did all kinds of things and I just gave myself a nice little break. 

Sometimes we need to do that. When a task is just a little too overwhelming, we just need to step back, lay it down, and let things settle. Sometimes we just need to give ourselves the time and space and grace to recharge.  

I guess I thought that if I just willed myself to make the decision to forgive her that it would be easy. That I’d somehow find the magic key to unlock the door and just let it all go.

And maybe one day I will. Or maybe it will just take time. And maybe part of the problem is that I’m just not ready yet to let her off the hook. Maybe, probably, if I’m being completely honest, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to not hate her. A part of me that can’t really fathom not hating her. 

I mean come on. I think most of you could admit you’d most likely feel the same. She SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND after all. Not only that, but she had a relationship with him. For 9 months. 9 MONTHS. And she helped set the stage for it to happen for months before that. Years really, in all actuality. She set out to take what was mine. She took something holy, and sacred. She had no regard for the pain and heartache she would cause not just me and my children, but her own husband and children. She lit the fire that destroyed the world as I knew it. 

Jeff took the bait, yes. He broke our vows. He utterly and completely broke my heart. 

The only difference between the two of them is that he owned it. Every bit of it. And he was sorry. He apologized to me. To God. To our children. To my family. To our friends. And to basically anyone and everyone that he came into contact with. He apologized to her husband. And he has spent every single day of his life since attempting to make amends to me and every one else for it and build a new life.

And yet, she is silent. 
Despite the fact that she knows how to contact me.

Still silent.
Despite the fact that I feel pretty certain that she got the message that I sent through one of her friends that accidentally sent me a friend request when checking out my Facebook page. (Yes, that happened. And yes it was awkward. Thankfully, her friend was kind and forgave me for my initial reaction to her accidental friend request.😳)
Still silent.
Despite the fact that I reached out last year and wrote her a letter.
No response. Still silent. 
Despite the fact that I feel sure she has read my posts on this blog. 
Still silent.
Despite the fact that I’ve given her opportunity after opportunity to show me she’s capable of being a decent human being. One that I could possibly learn not to hate.
Still, all there is, is silence. 
So, what then? At this point, am I to assume she truly has no remorse? Or at the very least, if she does, she has no intention of sharing that with me? Which again, makes me think that she isn’t truly remorseful. Because wouldn’t that a make a person want to do everything in their power to set things right, as much as possible anyway? I can’t imagine if I were in that position of having caused such damage to a person, and to life as they knew it, if I were truly sorry I don’t think I could live with myself if I didn’t tell them so. Is that just me? Am I wrong to think that when someone is truly sorry, they would be compelled to apologize? Or is it that she doesn’t have the nerve to reach out? Or does she indeed carry so much shame that she can’t bear the thought of facing me? (Texting or writing would do. It requires much less personal fortitude. I’m just sayin’ )
I’m pretty sure her marriage is still intact. So she’s apparently convinced her husband of her remorse. For his sake, I hope and pray it’s real. I really, really do. Honestly he’s the only person that makes me not truly wish all those horrible things I mentioned above on her, because he deserves a happy marriage. A happy life. I truly want her to be as remorseful as Jeff is, and to be able to build something new and real with her husband. He deserves absolutely nothing less. 

So many questions. Questions that she apparently has no intention to answer. 

Does it really even matter?

Would I be able to not hate her if I knew how sorry she was? Would it be easier to forgive her if I knew how sorry she was? I think so, but I guess I may never really know. Looks like she’s gonna make me have to do it the hard way. I’m just going to have to find a way to purge myself of the hatred that bubbles to the surface. 

I still believe one day I’m going to wake up and find that she is nothing more than a fact, an incident, a character in the story of our lives that is no longer capable of producing any real effect on my emotions, except for the gratefulness for the story that comes AFTER her brief but destructive presence in my life. 
One day the hatred WILL be overcome by grace. And the grace WILL allow for forgiveness. And forgiveness WILL allow for FULL redemption. 
As is evident by everything you’ve read in this post, I’m obviously not completely there yet. And I have kind of wanted to beat myself up about it. But I’m not going to. I’m just going to keep moving forward. And maybe not put so much pressure on myself to be able to do this overnight. Deep wounds require deep healing. You can’t just slap a bandaid on it or put some makeup on it to make it look pretty. Underneath the band aid or the makeup it’s still ugly, right up until the moment that it’s not. 
So I’ve still got a little ugly that I need to clean out of my wound. 

I think the real problem I’m having with forgiveness is that I’ve been trying too hard to figure out how “I” can do it. I’ve been looking to solve my own problem, to find my own answer, my own solution. I’ve been trying to find a logical equation that adds up to an answer that makes sense to me. But the truth is, forgiveness doesn’t make logical sense. 

Wikipedia says that forgiveness means letting go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. (I can’t even believe I just quoted the wikipedia🤦🏻‍♀️but hey, they had a good definition) 

The hardest part for me has been that no matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out a way that it makes sense to me to not feel negatively towards her. Not of my own capacity anyway. I can read all the books in the world. I can comb over every logical written fact about the subject, and possibly even be able to make sense of it in my head, but all the while still be unable to reconcile that with the feelings in my heart. And I can beat myself up about it until I’m black and blue.

The fact of that matter is, I. Can’t. Do. It. 

If true forgiveness comes, it will not be because I’m a woman of such strength, or of such virtue. It will be because God himself stepped in and made it happen. It will be a true miracle of miracles. It’s going to take God working on my heart in a way I can’t even imagine. And I mean it when I say I literally. can’t. even. 

So I guess it’s a good thing we serve the God of miracles. 

I guess I’ve just painted a pretty ugly picture of myself here. Reading back through it, I can’t help but feel a little vulnerable. I can’t help but think that I probably should paint myself a little prettier. A little more like the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” or “Reader’s Digest” or “Lifetime Christmas movie” version of forgiveness and a quick tidy little story all wrapped up with a bow and life lesson. I could have come here and only written the things my head knows, without revealing the darkest corners of my heart. My head knows I need to forgive. And I could have just said that I did it. I’ve forgiven her. Easy peasey. Tied it all up in a pretty little package for you with a pretty little bow on top. I could have gone with that whole “Forgiving is the right thing to do so I’m just gonna say that I do forgive her” scenario. I could paint you a nice little tidy picture of perfect little me, easily offering forgiveness with not so much as a drop of sweat off my brow. I could have made myself look like the pillar of strength, Godly woman I’d surely like you all to perceive me as. 
But it wouldn’t be the truth. 
It would probably get me more blog followers. 
Probably a lot more Facebook shares. 

But it wouldn’t be real. 
Real isn’t always neat. Real isn’t always pretty. So even though I wish I had a pretty little easy package of forgiveness to present to you, I don’t. All I have is the reality of how truly hard it is. 

Those stories are out there. Those “forgiveness is easy” stories. Maybe they make some of you feel better, but I think the more likely truth is that if you find yourself on the forgiving end of heartache, those stories will just make you feel like you’re somehow not Godly enough or inadequate because it hasn’t come quite that easily to you. So I’m not going to hide my ugly. I’m going to share my truth. The truth is forgiveness is hard. And something tells me that I’m not the only one that needs to hear that it’s ok that it’s hard. It’s ok that it doesn’t come easy. It’s ok. We will get there when we get there. We just have to keep walking. 

As I was trying to finish this up tonight, I had to leave and go pick up my daughter. On the way home, the radio deejay said something about how sometimes there were scriptures that were just really hard to hear. He went on to quote several verses from Luke 6:27-36:
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.

28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 
31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 

36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”

🤔 Well, that was no coincidence. He was speaking directly to me. 

I got the message God. I did. But love? Love’s a strong word. How about just: slightly dislike but not completely hate? 
Or could we go with: not quite love but not wishing for birds to poop on her head daily either?
No? 
No. The message is clear. I have to find a way to not hate her. I don’t have to “love” her. Not like I love my husband or my kids or my very best friends. I don’t think that is what this verse is saying when it refers to love. I think it means that I have to not hold her in contempt, I have to find a way to see her through the eyes of God, and I have to find a way to truly wish her well. 
I don’t think God was calling me out on the way home. I don’t think he was saying “Hey. You’re gonna do this or else!” I think it was more of a “Hey kid. I feel ya. It’s hard. But it’s possible. Come with me. We’ll do this thing together.”
I know it’s possible. I’ve seen real live examples of it. Of people who truly no longer feel the feelings of hate for the affair partner. I’ve seen the example of a woman who has come to actually care for the well being of the one night stand that had her husband’s baby. And truly want good things for her. You know why? It’s not because she’s a martyr. It’s not because she has some super human strength and the biggest heart on the face of the planet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s pretty amazing. An awesome, awesome person. But the fact that she can do the one thing that I haven’t figured out how to do sincerely yet, is because of what I said before. It’s because God is a God of miracles. 
I’m not completely sure how to get there, to the point where I don’t feel the contempt and I sincerely wish her nothing but goodness, other than submitting this wounded heart of mine to the Father and asking Him to work His miracle in me. 
That, and simply, time. 
I just have to trust that the things I know about forgiveness in my head, will eventually soak into my heart, and fill in the space where that hatred hides. My head knows the truth. My head knows the answer. I’m just waiting for my heart to catch up. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

A whole other blog for a whole other day.

So this is a subject that I’ve touched on in the past here and there, and made mention of from time to time. But I’d always include a quick reference or a few sentences, only to follow with: “but that’s a whole other blog for a whole other day.” I just haven’t really been able to bring myself to write about it, or to share in detail this part of my story. So I’ve put it off. Mainly I’ve just told myself, “you can’t write about this yet, because you haven’t figured it out yet. Not all of it anyway.” And I really, really like things to be neat and tidy. A nice little package that I can present. Something that even though it may start out ugly and messy and chaotic, I can eventually make some sense out of and give some order and hopefully help not just myself but others in the process.
Which is why sometimes I find it very ironic that this situation, these circumstances were the path life gave me. Because there is absolutely nothing neat or sensical or orderly about infidelity, betrayal, or the process you go through to heal from it. 

Yet somehow, we’ve found our way. And I wish I could tell you there was a trick. A specific way to survive it. While there is a long list of things I can and have shared with you that you could and should do that will help you tremendously in your recovery and rebuilding of your life, no matter the circumstance, there’s one basic thing that it comes down to. 

Keep moving. One foot in front of the other.    One NEW day at a time. 

It’s worked to get us through everything else, and so I have to believe that it will help me find my way to a better place with this too. 

So, for as long as I’ve put this off, I’ve decided putting it off just serves to keep me stuck. The only way to work through it is to work through it. I can choose to be complacent and say that I’ll never be able to figure this out and stay stuck, or I can keep moving, keep pushing forward and find a fullness in the redemption of our story that I know we haven’t begun to touch yet. As good as we are, I can’t shake this feeling that there’s so much more, something so much bigger that we haven’t even imagined. 

So that whole other day is today I guess. Might as well go ahead and dive on in. One foot in front of the other right? 

The subject I’m talking about is forgiveness. It’s something I never had to give much thought to before. No one had ever truly hurt me. Not in a big way anyway. But this. This was betrayal on another level. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about. Not the little stuff, but the life changing, selfish, cruel, and deceitful kind of transgressions.

And when you’re faced with that kind of pain, those kinds of scars, and especially when you’re faced with someone that is seemingly unapologetic for the damage they have done; you suddenly realize that forgiveness doesn’t make sense. You wonder what forgiveness truly means. What it actually looks like. And mostly you wonder what it’s supposed to feel like. And how to know when it’s real, and not just empty words said because you know it’s the right thing to do. Especially when you can’t even think the words without still feeling the contempt rise up within you. How do you find a way to truly mean it and not have those feelings of resentment and anger?                                                                     How do you move past wanting to be able to say you forgive someone, but also still having an overwhelming desire to punch them in the face? 

Forgiveness is something that in one case, such as someone like my husband that is so incredibly sorry, though it didn’t happen overnight is almost easy now, and allows me to have a relationship and a future that would have otherwise been impossible. 
Yet in another; the case of forgiveness of someone that offers no apology, someone that gives no indication that they regret causing you pain, like the woman he had the affair with, brings me anxiety, frustration, anger ,and resentment. 

People tend to oversimplify it. They say “The bible says you have to forgive, so you just have to do it.” Or they say, “just keep saying it until you mean it.” Which is not actually terrible advice, there’s some real truth and power in speaking things not as they are but as you want them to be. But also… man, that can take a really long time. I mean, I’ve tried this method off and on for nearly 2 years now, and I’m still not feeling it. But I do agree that it’s a good place to start. It’s the getting to the place where you actually mean it, the place where you can actually wish them well, the place where you are able to see them with some semblance of compassion instead of hatred, that I’ve struggled with. 
So what DO I know about forgiveness? 
Nothing about forgiveness is easy. 

Forgiveness is costly. While it is freely given, it is most certainly not free, not for the one doing the forgiving anyway. 

However, not forgiving is also costly.

Forgiveness always includes sacrifice. 

Forgiveness is precious. 

Forgiveness brings freedom. 

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is a continual choice.

Forgiveness is not just a gift to the offender, but a gift to yourself.  

Forgiveness is not always deserved, but always necessary. …. I think.                                               Ok, ok. I know it is. But this is one of the thought processes that I struggle with. I think to myself, “do I really HAVE to forgive her?” 

And the answer is honestly a resounding “NO”. I absolutely don’t have to. There is always a choice. I can choose not to. And a really big part of me doesn’t want to. She doesn’t care. She doesn’t want my forgiveness. And I mostly imagine that she certainly doesn’t deserve it. Mostly because she hasn’t asked for it. So why should I forgive her? 

It’s pretty easy to just choose not to forgive. Sooo much easier than doing the work to try to figure out a way to forgive and mean it. So yes, I could definitely choose not to forgive her. 
But does that choice bring anything good to my life? The answer to that is also a resounding “NO”. 

I want the good stuff in my life, and to get that, I have to choose the stuff that brings the goodness. 

So true forgiveness is a mystery that I will continue to intentionally pursue, an understanding that I do not have in full yet, but I choose to believe that through this process, I will find it. 
I say that, having no idea even what the process is really going to look like, but just stepping forward with God’s promise that says “seek and you shall find.” And one of my favorites, Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

How to truly forgive someone that doesn’t seem to be sorry definitely falls into the category of a great and mighty thing that I do not know. 
Also I believe there’s a great and mighty thing that he is working in our lives, the fullness of which we do not know yet, so that verse speaks to my soul in many different ways. 
And seeing as how I’ve taken you all with me through everything else, I’m going to bring you along for this too. The good the bad and the ugly, that’s what I have said I would share from the beginning, and I’m pretty sure this subject is going to cover all three of those adjectives. With everything else, writing about it has seemed to help me work through it and find what I’m looking for, or to see things in a different light, or at the very least help me come to terms with it, and I’m hopeful that will be the case with this too. 
To be continued…

❤️                                                                             Amy Thurston Gordy 

Oh, sciatica. 

How is it April already? This year is flying by! I’ve been missing in action on the blog here for a little bit. It wasn’t really an intentional break from writing, but between house stuff and a health issue, March was a bit challenging for me. 

The next step in our home renovations was to tear out the carpet in the bedrooms and replace it with hardwood floors. So over the weekends in March, we did one room at a time, and painted the walls and trim in each room as we went. There was so much stuff piled into my living room , it looked like a hoarder lived there. SO stressful! It also involved A WHOLE LOT of moving furniture in and out of rooms, and at some point during room # 2, I woke up with intense pain and muscle cramps from my lower back all the way down my right leg to my foot. 

I think the issue really started when I helped move the old oven out and the new oven up the stairs and into the house a couple months ago. I had been having some lower back stiffness since then, but nothing I paid much attention to. I think moving all the furniture around and the painting may have pushed it over the edge. 

The pain was nearly incapacitating for the first few days. Sitting was uncomfortable. Laying down was pretty much excruciating, so sleep was not something I was getting much of, and driving would literally bring me to tears. 

Sciatica is the devil. The devil, I tell ya. 

I made a couple of trips to the chiropractor, even though the thought of all that scary sounding bone popping absolutely terrified me. Especially that neck thing they do…that gives me the heebie jeebies! But at that point I was willing to try anything that might make me feel comfortable enough to just be able to get a few minutes of sleep. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to be helping. So I made a visit to the doctor, and they gave me steroids and anti inflammatories. I had to get a shot, so Jeff insisted that I have this ice cream on the way home. 😊


The meds thankfully got me well enough that the pain was more tolerable. I had X-rays and an MRI, and the diagnosis was a bulging disc at L5-S1. 

I walked with a limp due to a mixture of the muscle soreness and the loss of sensation in a portion of my foot, and spent the majority of each day on my feet, unable to relax, because the pain sitting or laying was almost too much to bear. It was exhausting.

But despite the pain and a very serious lack of sleep, I have found so much to be thankful for over these last few weeks. 
-I didn’t have to stay out of work. 
-My sisters. They checked on me all the time, and one of them brought me her tens unit. That thing felt like a million little bees stinging me but in an oddly good way. Those things really do help with back pain. 

-I had sweet friends and family members that gave me meds and creams to help with with the muscle spasms.

-One precious friend that was a former teacher at my kids elementary school insisted on bringing us a dinner of chicken salad, fresh bread, broccoli cheese soup, and also the most delicious muffins you’ve ever had in your life.💗 This was just so, so thoughtful and sweet.

-I got so many messages from friends telling me about their own experiences with sciatica, giving me tips on stretches and exercises and also giving me hope that it does go away! 

-My Mom sent over a heating pad, a back brace, and food. Really good food like fried chicken and barbecue pork. Oh and M&M’s. Let us not forget the goodness of the M&M’s! 

– My Daddy delivered the food, and said the sweetest prayer for healing over me before he left. There’s not much sweeter in this world than the heartfelt prayers of a parent for one of their children. Especially my parents. If you’ve ever met them, then you know they are precious. Just the best of the best. 

-My MRI cost me a lot less than I was expecting. 

– I’m getting better. The limp is pretty much gone. The numbness in my foot is going away. The muscle spasms are few and far between. I can sit pain free most of the time. Driving doesn’t make me want to cry anymore, and most importantly, I am able to sleep. 

– I put myself on a no bread, no sugar, no fun anti-inflammatory diet last week (ok, so maybe I still have a little caramel creamer in my coffee in the morning. Don’t judge. Ha. I gave up bread and chips y’all. That’s huge for me. So I’m cutting myself a little slack for this tiny daily cheat!) and as an added bonus, I’ve lost 6 pounds this week. 

-My floors look amazing.

Seriously, just look at them. Jeff did good!


-And last, but certainly not least, I have an amazing husband that takes care of me so, so well. 
He single-handedly finished out the floors and took over my painting of the walls and trim. He moved all the furniture back in the rooms, and cleaned up all the mess. He also has done the majority of the house cleaning. He sat with me through my Doctor’s appointments. He rubbed my leg and foot every night to help with the muscle cramps. He brought me my meds and propped pillows under my legs and drove Anna Kate wherever she needed to go whenever he could so I could rest and so I wouldn’t have to drive. He made my coffee and fixed my lunches. All of this on top of working every day and being on call. And he did every bit of it with a happy heart and a sweet smile. 
I looked at him the other day and said, “you are a good, good husband.”
I don’t take saying that lightly, given where we were two years ago. 

And neither does he. 

It’s kind of a big deal. Huge, actually. That I can look at the man that shattered my heart and our lives into a million little jagged pieces, and say that to him, and mean it. Like really mean it. 

I took him back believing for something better. Hoping for something better. In our relationship, and in him as a person, and in every aspect of our lives. And I wasn’t sure about it. I wasn’t sure it was possible. Any of it. But I chose to believe that it could be. 
And every day, I’m continually amazed at how good our life is. 
He’s a good, good God.                 And Jeff is a good, good husband. 

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.


Amy Thurston Gordy

 

Triggers

Let’s talk about triggers. They are nasty, mean, persistent little buggers. 

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, a trigger is something that reminds you of a trauma you’ve experienced, and brings back the emotional and physical reactions to that trauma as if it’s just happened. And they come in all shapes and sizes. There can be big triggers, such as an actual location, or a person, or thing closely associated with the trauma. Or they can be the most tiny minute thing, such as a smell, a taste, a phrase, or a sound. Sometimes you see them coming, so you can be somewhat prepared. 
One example of that is when I hear of another person going through the aftermath of infidelity. Hearing their story, and seeing those emotions could sometimes be a trigger for me. But over time I have learned how to prepare myself for those interactions so that they don’t affect me in a negative way and I am able to engage with and empathize with the person and offer help and support without it taking me back too deeply into my own place of grief. It’s a trigger that I believe I’ve conquered in large part because of my desire to be that lifeline and that ray of hope to others that are going through what I went through, and my desire to see them find healing and happiness too. It’s actually therapeutic for me to know that what I’ve been through can be used to help someone else. So that’s not really a trigger at all for me anymore.  

With some of the bigger triggers, such as places or people, you just know to avoid them if at all possible. For me, there’s the hospital parking spot where he would meet her at night after work to tell her goodbye. That one I had to drive by daily, so I’ve trained myself not to let my eyes look that direction when passing by, because if I did, I would see them there in my minds eye, and imagine their kisses goodnight. Not a good visual for me.
The city park is also a big trigger for me. I still have yet to go there. Unfortunately for me, due to the location of my work, I had to pass the entrance to it on a daily basis too up until a few weeks ago, and it always bothered me on some level. But over time I’ve learned to ignore it and just not look that direction if at all possible. Will I ever be able to take the next step and actually go into the park? I don’t know. As of now, I can’t think of a reason that would really require me to have to. There are other locations that I can’t bring myself to go to either. I don’t know if I’ll be required to actually go any of these places and have to overcome these triggers at some point in the future. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, but for now avoidance is the way I handle those types of triggers. 

Then there’s the small ones. Those are the ones that are really unavoidable, and also the ones that take you by surprise. Sometimes it’s a smell. Such as the way Jeff’s breath smells after he has a certain drink. It triggers memories of times I would smell a hint of it and taste it on his breath and ask if he had been drinking, and he would say no, it was this chapstick he’d used or something of the sort. But in reality it was the smell of their favorite drink, and it was on his breath because he’d been drinking it with her. So now when I smell that it takes my mind back to those moments. To thoughts of him spending hours with her, drinking and… and this is the point where I have to stop the thought right there or my heart will start racing, the feeling of being punched in the gut overtakes my stomach, my entire body tenses up and my breath gets shallow and the feeling of panic and then grief and sadness washes over me from head to toe. 
Sometimes it’s a situation, such as him working late. Those aren’t too bad anymore because he is so, so good about letting me know where he is at all times and checking in regularly to ease my anxiety in those situations.
A trigger can also be a certain date, or time of year. Even when a good bit of time has passed and even if you’ve had a lot of healing, our bodies and minds can sometimes retain what’s called cellular memory. It literally means that our bodies recall the trauma on a cellular level and will react to those stimulators whether we like it or not. And we may not recognize on an intellectual level right away that those cellular memories are the cause. Like now for instance. My triggers and bad thoughts and the effect they have on me were a little worse this past week. This is around the time of year that his affair started. So the simple act of looking at a calendar or the similarity in weather patterns can be a reminder. 
Sometimes it’s a song. Maybe it’s just that it was overplayed during that time period so it takes me back to those emotions. Or it’s the actual lyrics. Like the one that gets played constantly that says “baby pull me closer in the back seat of your rover” that instantly brings images of him with her in the backseat of her SUV to my mind, since that was where their encounters took place.
It can even be an analogy that the pastor uses in his sermon during Sunday service. Like the time a few weeks ago he was asking the congregation if they remembered their last first kiss, the excitement and the passion and the feeling you got in your stomach. And all I could hear in my head was “Jeff’s last kiss was only a little over a year ago. And when he thinks of his last first kiss, it won’t be me. I will never be his last first kiss again.” And it took everything I had not to burst into tears in the middle of the service. 
My point in telling you all this is, that the triggers are literally everywhere. You can’t escape them. 

The big question is, how do we deal with them? 
I know that I’ve come a long way in dealing with the triggers and the flood of emotions they bring. 
In the beginning, they weren’t just a daily occurrence, but a constant torment. Literally constant. Every minute of every single day was a constant struggle with the chaos and pain that had become my mind. 

Everyone that’s gone through the trauma of infidelity experiences this on some level. For some reason, it’s worse for some than others, and in scientific circles, it’s thought to be worse for some because of how your brain reacted to the trauma and rewired itself in response. The pathways that process your thoughts affiliated with the trauma actually become altered. They call it Post traumatic infidelity disorder, and the effects are much the same as post traumatic stress disorder that soldiers or victims of other types of trauma experience. There is more and more research being done and for the people that this affects for an extended time past their trauma there are treatments that can help you retrain your brain to process these memories in a way that helps you to be able to recall them without that uncontrollable flood of emotions and pain. It’s called EMDR, and although it’s slightly strange, it appears to be a very promising treatment. So for those of you that are really having a hard time keeping the triggers at bay, it is something you may want to do more research on too. I’d love to hear from someone that has tried it and if it has been helpful or not for you. 

Outside of that, the best way to handle the triggers is to get better at refocusing on something good in the current moment and then finding a way to keep your mind there. 
As time has gone by, my triggers have gotten progressively less frequent, and less powerful. 
And like I said, I know the key to overcoming them is my thought process, and gaining control when the triggers hit me. I’m so thankful for Jeff’s life coach and for our church who have taught us both the power of positive thinking and how life changing it can be, and I attribute so much of our success and ability to get as far as we have in this healing process and in the rebuilding of our marriage to that very thing. 

In some ways, I’ve gotten really good at it, the replacement thinking, and that is evident because of the decrease in the occurrence of the triggers.  

But occasionally one will still hit me really hard. Especially if several triggers happen back to back. I might bat off the first one pretty easily, but then a second one pops up and maybe a third, and that tension and anxiety builds and it’s harder to fight off the flooding of emotion and thoughts that start firing off and carrying you down rabbit holes of grief and questions and doubt and mostly, just pain. And once it’s gotten that far it takes a good bit of effort to pull yourself back out of that spiral. 

The secret is to be able to recognize the triggers right when they happen so you can grab control and redirect those thoughts immediately. It sounds simple, yes. And it is when it really comes down to it. But just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s always easy. The problem is that sometimes, when the trigger is subtle, you think you’re ok, so you just kind of let that first one ride. But then sometimes another one comes right behind it and before you know it you’re sucked in and your thoughts are suddenly dragging you forcefully through the mud. 

The replacement thinking works, and I’m able to do it a good bit of the time, but I obviously have not completely mastered it yet. So this is something that I’m going to continue to work on. 

This healing process is not something that happens overnight. And sometimes you may feel like so much time has gone by and you’re doing so good and something, even something small can seem to pull you backwards. And it can be so discouraging to feel like you maybe haven’t made quite as much progress as you thought. So you have to be intentional. You have to be aware and vigilant and learn how to see the triggers coming, and how to deal with the ones you don’t see coming, and continue to take care of yourself and put in the work and read the books and do the research and talk to whoever you need to talk to. 
As much as we might wish it could be, the healing is not instantaneous. You don’t just say “ok I forgive you and we are all good”, and magically have no recollection or lingering effects of what you’ve been through. I wish it were that easy. It’s a process and it also has to be maintained in order to stay healthy. So I’m going to do my best to make sure I stay focused and continue to learn and find ways to improve my ability to control my thoughts and heal my heart and mind. 

As for the spouses out there, the ones who were unfaithful. I have some really, really important advice for you. And it may be a little harsh,so brace yourself. If you truly want to accommodate your spouse’s healing and the rebuilding of your marriage, this advice is imperative. And at its core, it’s only two words. 
Be patient. 

BE PATIENT. 
We get it. It’s not easy for you either. You’re tired. You’re frustrated. You’re not proud of what you did, and you’ve done your best to try and make amends. You really desperately just want to forget it and put it all behind you. You wonder if we will ever really just get over it. 
I hate to be the one to break it to you, I really do. 
But, the answer to that question, is no. 

No. 

We will never just get over it. Not in the way you are imagining it in your head anyway. And you would do very well to never, ever, ever say those words to us. 

We will never just get over it, but if you will be patient, and kind, and empathetic, and truly remorseful, and supportive, and open, and honest, and willing to do whatever it takes to make us feel secure, and if you will be attentive and comforting and most of all just love us with everything that you are, we CAN move beyond it. We CAN learn how to control the triggers, we CAN find a way to forgive you, and we CAN be filled with gratitude for the person you have become and the amazing marriage that we have now. 
So my best advice for you when you are feeling frustrated and maybe even a little angry that even though you’ve changed and you do your best to be the best husband and person you can be that you still have to deal with the aftermath of what you’ve done, is to take a deep breath. Do a little replacement of your own thoughts. Reroute those thoughts of frustration and anger you are having, such as: “This is hard. Seeing her still in pain after all this time is not fun and makes me feel as though I can’t win, that no matter what I do she will never be able to let it go. She just needs to forget about it and move on.” and turn them to thoughts of gratitude and love: “I put her through so much. It must be so hard to be bombarded with the tormenting thoughts and memories she has to deal with. She’s the love of my life and I’m so thankful that she didn’t give up on me. That despite the pain and heartache, she still loves me and fights through the pain, and being a part of her life is a gift.”
If you respond to one of her (or his) emotional responses to a trigger with anger and frustration, it’s just going to give those bad thoughts of doubt and insecurity and pain she’s having more power and make it harder for her to fight her way out. Try to remember that she didn’t ask for this. She didn’t want this pain. She doesn’t want to remember it any more than you do. As a matter of fact, selective amnesia would be a welcomed malady. When you feel yourself wanting to get upset or frustrated that she isn’t moving on as fast as you think she should or as quickly as you’d like, take a minute to remember that it was your actions that caused her to have to fight this battle in her mind. It was your actions that broke her mind, her spirit, and her heart. And for you, who has never been on this side of it, to decide that you think you can judge how long it should take to heal, is absurd, and quite frankly unfair and maybe even a little selfish and mean. 
So don’t do it.

Be patient, and be grateful that she is making the effort at all. 
During the triggers and the flooding of thoughts and emotions the betrayed spouse is experiencing, what they need from you the most is comfort and security. They need reassurance that your love is real. That your remorse is real. And that your commitment to your relationship is real and that you are willing to be humble and kind and understanding even when it’s not easy. And they need your help in being reminded of how good a place your marriage is in now. Of all the goodness in this present moment. And all the goodness that’s still ahead. 

Whew. 
This week’s post has been heavy. But I hope it has also been helpful to some of you that are making your way through the healing process too. 

In keeping with my belief system that all negatives need to be replaced with a positive… let’s end this on a positive note. I successfully pulled myself out of my emotional spiral this past week. It took longer than I (and Jeff 😉) would have liked, but that just helped me to see that I need to do a little more work, and that’s ok. I want to get stronger in my ability to control the triggers and the way my brain and body reacts to them, and I’m “positive” that I’m going to find a way to do it. 😊 And as far as my regular, everyday life goes, it couldn’t be better. I have beautiful healthy children, an amazing husband that makes me laugh and is a better husband than I ever could have imagined him to be, and I have a new job that I absolutely love. I also finally have a beautiful, working double oven , which nearly completes our kitchen renovation! 
Life is good. It’s really, really good. 

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

Dear 2016

One year. One year ago today, just before midnight on New Years Eve I wrote my first blog, “Dear 2015”. 

For those of you that didn’t follow me in the beginning or haven’t read back through, it was about a small tree at High Falls State Park that had been battered by a recent torrential storm. 


High Falls was not a place I wanted to hear about or be reminded of. It was a place I spent a good bit of time in as a child, and had fond memories of. Memories of family picnics, playing on the rocks, walking the trails. Watching the majestic power of the waterfall that looked so much larger and higher from my childhood eyes. But those memories were not what came to mind when I heard or saw the words High Falls anymore, because now the only thing I thought of is that it was one of the meeting spots during Jeff’s affair. An out of the way, unlikely to be discovered, almost perfectly halfway point between our home and hers where they met to betray the people that loved them. 

But there was something about the photo of the tree that drew me in and spoke to me. Here is an excerpt from that very first post:
-My brother posted a video this week. It was of a single small tree, in the rushing flood waters of High Falls. Storm waters raging all around it, the tree is whipping around in every direction. Yet, it hangs on. Still standing though the world is in chaos around it, and its branches are bending and heavy with the force of the storm swirling around it.

In my mind I picture there are stones in the ground surrounding that little tree. I imagine its roots, weaved around those rocks, anchoring the tree in the ground so that no matter what comes, it is able to weather the storm. And when those flood waters clear, it stands firm. Resilient and strong.
Adam’s quote on that video was simply, “Be the tree.” The fact that the video was taken at High Falls is no small detail, and is not lost on me. Those of you that know the details of my story know that it’s on the list of places that trigger painful thoughts and anxiety for me. But I saw that video and I knew it was for me. 
I AM the tree.

2015 brought a storm of destruction that threatened everything I knew to be true about my life. But like that tree, my roots are wrapped around the Rock. And all of those stones that hold me in place, those stones are all of you. My unwavering, amazing and beautiful support system. Rooted in Christ, and surrounded by all the people He has placed in my life. And now that the storm has passed and the world becomes a little more peaceful and the flood waters recede, I will stand just as that tree does. My branches stronger from facing the resistance of adversity. All that water meant for my destruction, instead being used to create new growth, and causing my branches to bloom into something beautiful.
So goodbye 2015. You meant to destroy me, to steal my joy. You gave it your best shot. But you. do. not. win.
I’m looking forward to sunshine and happiness in 2016. May it bring us all a year filled with countless blessings and most of all, an abundance of joy.-

When I wrote that, I didn’t know I was writing it for a blog. I really didn’t know why I was writing it at all. I just felt compelled to put the pen to paper and write. And I quickly found that it was like therapy for me. And I remembered how much I loved it, writing. And then I felt compelled to post it. Which was so out of character for my very introverted, private self. But I felt like God was telling me to post it, and so, just seconds before the clock struck midnight, I pressed that publish button and bid a formal goodbye to 2015. 
Little did I know what that one small act of pressing that button would put into motion for me. That it would usher in a whole new existence, a whole new outlook, a whole new beginning for me. And I certainly never expected that I would be bringing thousands of people all over the world along for the ride. In my mind, I thought that probably my family would read it. A few facebook friends. I never imagined how far it would go. I mean, seriously, this still blows my mind every time I see it. 

And here we are, one year later. It’s been an emotional year full of goodness, hard work, trial and error, setbacks and triumphs. And you all have been there with me through every last bit of it.
So tonight, I share with you my letter to 2016:

Dear 2016,
To say we’ve been through a lot together would be an understatement. While 2015 came swinging for me, bringing its wrecking ball crashing through my life….you, you were different. 
You were more like a steady hand. 
Guiding me as gently as possible as I recovered from the battering injuries I’d sustained in my storm. 
In many ways, it was a tough year, but not in the same ways as 2015. We had a lot of pain to face. A lot of fears to face. A lot of grief to work through. And it was no easy task. It was hard, gut wrenching, soul cleansing work. Sometimes I wasn’t sure we could do it. Sometimes it felt impossible. Sometimes we would take several steps upward only to stumble and go tumbling halfway to the bottom again. It was work. It was at times excruciating. It was hard. It was exhausting. And it was incredibly painful. 
But every time I would fall, I’d lift my eyes upward. I’d see the good stuff ahead. I’d look to the promises, “Behold, I make all things new”, and “you intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” And I picked myself back up, and kept pushing on. And so along with all the hard stuff, it was also rewarding, joyful, encouraging, expectant, propelling, and life giving.  
You brought me healing. You brought me strength. You brought me courage. You brought me hope. 

You brought me love.                    The real kind.                                                    

You brought me joy, and you brought me redemption.

You reminded me of who I am.  Not who people thought I was.  Not who others had come to expect me to be. 

Not even the person I’d confined myself to be. 

But Who I really am.        

You brought out the gifts within me. And the courage to use them.

You taught me that fear is an illusion. An illusion meant to keep us stuck where we are. Never growing, never reaching beyond our walls. 

You taught me that God goes ahead of us no matter where life takes us. 

You taught me how to not be afraid anymore. 

I look back on this year and see how much has happened, and how my life has changed. My relationship with my husband is so much better than it’s ever been. My friendships are stronger, and my social circle has grown to include some very special people all over the world that I never would have known had I not gone through my storm. We’ve seen blessings professionally and financially. Our children are healthy and happy and thriving and it is such a blessing to watch them unfold into the beautiful, strong, bright young women that God made them to be. 

And I have this blog. A place to purge my pain, to shed my heartache, to proclaim His goodness and to declare our victories. A place to use my gifts, and to do what I’m passionate about. A place to share hope. A place to connect with all of you. 

So 2016, to you, I say thank you. 
Thank you for ushering in the afternoon of my life. Thank you for being the place where I learned to focus on the good. Thank you for making me do the hard work and for making me face my fears and for launching me on the path to becoming the woman God intended me to be. 
I said it a year ago and it still rings true today. 

I AM the tree. 



The storm came and it beat me down, it battered me until parts of me were so very broken. It’s wind and rain took my breath away until I felt like I would suffocate. It left me drowning in my heartache. It came to bring death and destruction. But my roots held firm. The storm came to steal everything good from me. But instead of washing all the goodness away, it took the dead leaves on my branches, and the stagnant earth around my trunk, and washed away everything unusable. It washed away everything that had no place in the life God intended for me. And it made way for fresh soil. And the winds calmed and the torrential downpour subsided and the sun broke through, and then the showers of blessings poured out to bring new growth. To bring me a new life. 

The storm came to shake me to my core. And now, my roots are even deeper and stronger. My trunk more solid and steady. My branches, expanding, growing, reaching towards the sun. And I think I’m even starting to see some blooms. Maybe, even putting out a little fruit. 

Isaiah 61:3
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

God took what was meant for my destruction, for the destruction of my family, and He brought goodness out of it. 

Psalm 91:14-16.                               The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble.I will rescue and honor them.I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

It’s not quite here yet, but I think I’ll go ahead and get a head start on my letter to 2017. 

So Dear 2017, 

This year, you aren’t coming for me. The tables are turning and        I am coming for you. And I believe that you are filled with opportunity. I believe that you have so much goodness for me, for my family, and for everyone we come into contact with. And I plan to find every single ounce of it.

As we move forward, this is our focus:
The goodness. 
The grace.
And the gifts. 
I am so grateful for the way God has paved our path with these three things. We still have more work to do. More healing to do. And more growing to do. 
But I look forward to walking through it and finding more of God’s goodness, more of His grace, and more of His gifts. 

Psalm 1:3
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

I am thankful for each and every one of you. For the way you have followed my blog and our journey. For the love and the support you’ve given us. For giving me this outlet to share my story. You are a gift.

 I think I still have so many more stories to tell, so I hope you’ll continue to stick around, and follow as they unfold.

I wish you all good things in 2017. May it bring you goodness. May it bring you joy. May it bring you more blessings than you can contain. May it propel you to become everything God intended YOU to be. 

And may you also Be the tree. 
Happy New Year.


Amy Thurston Gordy