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

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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

Dear 2017

It’s been two years since the Facebook post of a video of a little tree inspired my very first blog post. That little tree did so much more than just survive a storm. It became an inspiration. It became a launching pad for a new life. It was the catalyst that uncovered a gift that had long been hidden, and it helped me and so many others to discover that you can give your pain a purpose, and that there is goodness and beauty to be found in everything, even in the midst of your biggest storms. I keep a photo of this little tree at the top of my blog. It represents strength in adversity, hope within heartache, and the importance of what anchors you. It’s become a representation of who I am, and of what I want the purpose of this blog, and of my story, to be. The message is, and always will be, “Be the tree.”

That first blog was a letter to 2015 posted on New Years Eve. Last year, I posted a letter to 2016. So, in keeping with tradition, I give you my letter to this year. 

Dear 2017, 
In a lot of ways, it seems as though you rushed right in and are rushing right out. For some reason, it feels as though it has just flown by. I think maybe it’s because this year has been a little easier for us, a little less heart heavy. With the hardest days of healing and rebuilding behind us, we were able to breathe a little, and enjoy the goodness of where we are now. 

Although you did seem to fly by, we did actually have several big milestones this year, and I had a few smaller, yet significant moments, that revealed to me where my heart is at in this healing process and what still needs to be dealt with to get to where I want to be. 

Milestone #1:
I started a new job. That can be a stressful thing to do. But the transition was so easy, and although I may have had the occasional doubt, I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’ve gained a new work family, kept up relationships with my old work family, and enjoyed every minute of getting to work with my actual family, my two sisters. It’s been SO much fun.  

Milestone #2:
My oldest daughter moved out of the house and into an apartment with her cousins a couple of hours drive away from home. That was a HUGE adjustment. I miss her like crazy when she’s not at home but I am also so proud of her and the life she is building for herself. 

 Milestone #3:

We reached the 2 year mark of surviving the devastation of our marriage. Most of the books I’ve read say that’s the magic number. The turning point, if you will. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say it’s somehow magic. It’s definitely not as if it never happened, and I think to say it could ever come to that point is just unrealistic. But it definitely is easier. I still think about aspects of it probably at some point of every day. But I don’t live in the pain of it. There are still twinges every now and then. But the triggers are so much less present in our everyday life. I would say that we are in a place now where things are really good, we’ve dealt with most of the outer layers of damage and pain, and a lot of the innermost injuries, and what is left is mostly just goodness and gratitude. 

There are still a few things that I have to work on. I’m still working on that whole forgiveness thing. Letting go of the negative thoughts I have towards his affair partner. So there’s that. I suppose I’ve made some progress. She creeps into my thoughts less these days, so I guess in actuality, I just have less opportunity to have the feelings of anger and loathing that the thought of her incites. I don’t know if that’s really progress in true forgiveness, but I’ll take it. 
I would also say that I still have some pretty big issues with trust. I’m much better than I once was. With Jeff anyway. But it is still something that doesn’t come easily for me. Not just with Jeff, but also I tend to be wary of people’s intentions in general. I suppose that’s a normal side effect of having been deceived. I’m trying to be better about it, but still have such a reflex of needing to protect myself, so I question everything. I guess it really all just comes down to the fact that I have some pretty deeply rooted residual fears. 

And speaking of fear, that leads me to the next milestone of this year. 
Milestone #4:
My youngest daughter got her learners permit. Now this, this has been a real challenge for me. All you mom’s out there that have sat in the passenger seat while your baby gets behind the wheel of a thousand pounds of moving metal, and all of you who have watched your children drive off for the first time, you feel me. You totally get it. 

I’ve done this once before, so it shouldn’t give me quite this much anxiety. And y’all, she’s really not a bad driver. She’s not great with the parking, but she does pretty good with the driving. We had a few near misses where she pulled out in front of another car because she was confused about when it was ok for her to go, and there were a few times when she took a turn a little too fast. She also may have pulled into the driveway a little too quickly and nearly hit a parked car. But hey, we’ve all done those things. And she didn’t hit anything and they were learning moments and all is well. 

But my goodness, it is SO scary. 

Truthfully though, the problem is not her or her driving skills. Yes, she still has some things to learn before we let her drive off on her own, but the real issue is ME and my anxiety level. 
And it’s not just with her. Some of the biggest fights between Jeff and I this year stemmed from arguments over how Jeff was driving. Maybe I felt he was following too close, waiting til the last minute to brake, turning when I thought he should have waited for the car to pass, or maybe I worried that he wasn’t paying close enough attention and maybe I pointed out EVERY single possible danger to him. Because if I didn’t, we could possibly be in a horrific crash. Or maybe just an inconvenient fender bender. I’m just being helpful. Ok, ok. And possibly my constant “helpfulness” might be a little annoying. 
There.

I owned it. 

And his reaction to my “helpfulness” could sometimes be a little hurtful. 
We recently had a talk about it and he suggested that maybe I might benefit from taking some sort of anxiety medication before getting in the car. Ha. I’m pretty sure we all might benefit from that. 

But what I asked myself later is “why?”

Why am I having these near panic attacks every time I’m riding in the car with one of them? It doesn’t happen when I’m the one driving. And that’s when it hit me. It’s not about their driving skills. I mean, it wouldn’t hurt for them to maybe be a little more careful. 

But the real issue underneath my anxiety and panic is control. When they are driving, I’m not in control. I can’t control their decisions. I can’t control what may or may not happen. 
This is not a driving issue. This is not an anxiety issue. 

It’s a heart issue. 

It’s a mind condition issue. 

And it’s not really about riding in a car. That is just where it happened to become more tangibly seen. What it’s really about is me trying to control every situation, every possibility, every outcome, in an attempt to protect myself. To protect the people I love. It’s about being hyper vigilant, because I’m terrified I might miss some danger that is lurking, waiting to jump out and destroy us. Because I still maybe haven’t forgiven myself for missing so many of the danger signs before and during Jeff’s affair. And because deep down there’s a part of me that thinks if I can somehow control everything that happens around me, I can ensure that nothing bad happens to me or the people I care about.

This is what Oprah likes to call an “aha moment”. 
And so, I know that I still have big things to work through. I trust that God will take care of me. I’ve seen it firsthand. I have no reason to doubt it. But still, the thought of going through anything hard again, anything painful, it terrifies me. It’s a deep seated fear that at any given moment my world could fall apart again. And so there’s this part of me that thinks that if I just pay really close attention and do my best to control every single aspect of my life, I can ensure that nothing bad happens to me or the people I love.
And to some degree it’s true. It is true that we should all pay closer attention. There were so many signs that I missed when my world fell apart. Some of them glaring, flashing signs that I most certainly should not have missed. And I guess I still tend to beat myself up for that. So yes, we should pay attention. But when it comes down to it, signs or no signs, we can’t control the decisions of others. And unfortunately, when the people we love make bad ones, and they eventually crash and burn, we are there, sitting in the passenger seat, with no say, with no control. And many times we are the ones that take the brunt of the impact and suffer the most serious injuries. 

So, this is my struggle. To find the balance. To be alert and aware, but not to the point of paranoia. To be helpful, and hold people accountable when it’s actually warranted without pointing out every single possible danger and becoming annoying. 
But mostly, to learn to let go of the insatiable need to be in control. To trust that everything is going to be ok. To remind myself daily of the ways God carried me through every bad day after life as I knew it went up in flames. How He has used what was meant for my harm to bring the goodness of the life I have now. 

Because to control every aspect of my life is exhausting. And in all reality, a waste of energy. And quite frankly, I’m tired. 
So I’m working on it. I’m trying to remind myself to just relax. To let go. To trust that the God of the universe, the God that walked with me through my best days, and carried me through my worst, has my best interests at heart. And that no matter what comes my way, no matter if I make a bad decision, or someone else makes a bad decision, He will carry me through that too and work all things for my good. 

I have to remind myself that I’m still that tree that I wrote about in my very first post, the one that stands strong no matter what comes my way, because of what anchors me.  

I can’t allow my anchor to be the fear of heartache. And I have to remind myself that I am not my own anchor. I can’t serve as my own anchor deep below the swirling waters of life and still keep my head above the waves. I have to learn to really trust the true anchor. 
The true anchor is the joy of God’s goodness, it is the hope and the certainty that no matter what, the best is yet to come. 

So, 2017, thanks for going fairly easy on me. Thanks for making me face some hard truths about myself and the work I still have to do to move forward, to find some peace, and to become the best version of me. 
 As for you 2018, I don’t know what you have planned for me. And I’m working on learning to be ok with that. Because I know whatever it is, it will always turn to goodness. I’m expecting it to be a year of breakthroughs and blessings. 

And I pray the same for all of you. 
Happy New Year, and thank you all again for another year of walking along side us and cheering us on as we build this new life. Your support is felt, your prayers are felt, and I am forever grateful for every one of you. 

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

* tree video credit goes to Back Road Travels on Facebook

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

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