The truth. Live in that.

Arguments. When two people live together, they are bound to happen from time to time. We had an argument a few weeks ago that lasted nearly 3 days. Yep. That bad.

The somewhat little issues that the argument started out about became simple background noise to what the argument grew into. That’s the way arguments can spiral into something so much bigger than the real issues at hand. It becomes more about the reactions, and the things we say to each other than about whatever incident the argument started out about. The negative thoughts start and they set off a chain reaction and the next thing you know things are being said like, ” I don’t know if we can ever really be happy.” 

“All we do is argue.”, 

“you never do (fill in the blank) or you always (fill in the blank).”,

“maybe we can’t make this work.” 

Can’t. Won’t. Shouldn’t. Frustrated. Mad. Sad. Angry. Scared. Broken.Backwards. Not making progress. 

Even the word, Divorce. 

All these negative words. 

And suddenly I hear it. I really hear it.

And I say, “wait, do you hear what we are saying to each other? What are we saying to each other? Why are we saying these things? None of them are true. 

NONE OF THEM ARE TRUE!

We are good. What we have is good. This incident or that incident doesn’t define who we are or where our relationship stands. 

Look at how far we’ve come. We are a vast distance from where we started. There is progress. 

We do love each other. We do value each other. We do appreciate the effort the other makes. We can do this. We HAVE done this. We are in a better place in our lives in every way. Relationally . Spiritually. Financially. Our lives are blessed and full. 

That’s the truth.  

We had a bad day. That’s all. But we let the negative thoughts find a place in our minds to stick and then they spread like a wildfire. Planting lies as they spread. Planting seeds of insecurity and doubt and filling our heads with so much smoke that the darkness started blocking out the light. 

It can happen that easily, and it can happen that fast. Just a couple of negative thoughts can quickly trick your mind into believing that all the goodness is gone. 

So you can’t let it. 

Because it’s lies. 

It’s ALL lies. 

The goodness didn’t go anywhere. You just chose to look at something else. And by looking at that one little bad thing, it changed the way you were able to see everything else. It’s like putting a filter on a photograph. It can change the way you perceive things. It can take a bright, vibrant photo, and make it appear dark and dreary. Even though the colorful, happy image is still there, suddenly the only things you can see is the darkness and all the vast goodness that filled the image blurs into the background and becomes small in the shadow of this filter of negativity.

So be careful. 

Arguments are going to happen. 

But listen carefully to the thoughts. Listen carefully to the words you are speaking from those thoughts. Then hold them up to the light of truth. 

Are they true? Or have you allowed the negative thoughts to spiral and distort the truth? 

The lie that Jeff’s negative thoughts turned into:

“We are right back where we started, and no matter what we do or how hard I try we will always end up back there.”

The truth:

We are nowhere near where we started. Not even close. And we grow and move even further forward with every single setback. 

The lie my negative thoughts turned into:

“He’s not really sorry. He doesn’t really value me. He can’t handle the time and the patience it takes to get through this process, and I’m just not worth it to him.”

The truth: 

He is sorry. Beyond sorry. He shows me he values me every single day. He’s human and this process is frustrating. For him and for me. But he’s still here. Because I am worth it to him. 
We had a bad day. When it comes down to it. That’s all it is. Just a bad day. They happen. 

The important thing we all have to learn is to not let that bad day become our undoing. 

Deal with whatever issue is at hand without letting the negative thoughts make it something much bigger. 

And once the issue has been acknowledged, remind yourself of the good stuff. Remind yourself of the truth. 

You have to pay attention, and you have to learn to recognize those negative thoughts for what they truly are. Lies. 

The truth is the goodness all around you. Live in that. 

Amy Thurston Gordy

Of Grace and gas bills

It’s been one of those days. You know the ones. The ones where something goes wrong. Then something else goes wrong. Then you’re ready to cry, but you tell yourself you’re being silly and overly sensitive and to suck it up and pull it together and then lo and behold, you guessed it, something else goes awry.

It all started after our 6 AM alarm went off. I went to the kitchen to get Anna Kate’s cereal from the pantry and we were out, so I settled on microwaveable oatmeal. I popped it in the microwave and went to wake her up.

Come back for said oatmeal, and find that it has puffed up and overflowed all over the bottom of the microwave. Yay. That’s fun. No biggie. I’ll just wipe that up. Jeff comes into the kitchen, and then into the pantry, and is leaning way back over in the corner where the hot water heater is.

“What are you doing?”, I ask.

“There’s no hot water. I’m looking to see if it’s on. It isn’t. Try the stove burners and see if they will come on.”

So I try, and it’s a no go. No flame. No gas. Hmm.

He says they must be working on the line somewhere and shut it off.

I think to myself, “wouldn’t they have notified us of an outage..”

He says, “you paid the bill, right?”

“Yes, I paid it.”

A minute goes by. I’m thinking.. I did pay it right? So I look in my checkbook. The entry is there. I look through my “paid” stack of bills. There it is. In the “paid” stack. So I paid it…right?

Jeff takes a cold shower and goes to work.

I decide to check the gas account online, just to make sure they posted my payment. Certainly if I had not paid it I would have gotten a disconnect notice.

Account comes up… red letters..Past Due. Umm. Huh?

I look through payment history. It’s not there. I look at bank account. Never cleared. Oh boy.

I’m an idiot. I remember sitting down to pay it and some other bills, but apparently never actually entered the payment. I always write down the confirmation number when I pay online. My checkbook entry had no confirmation number under it. Oh no.

I must have gotten distracted and walked away, and forgotten that I never actually entered the online payment. Oh geez.

I call the gas company to make the payment and reconnect the service.

They can come Tuesday.

TUESDAY.

Y’all. That’s 5 days with no hot water. No gas for cooking. 5 days of cold showers and pizza delivery. Because I’m an idiot.

Ugh.

I was supposed to be off today. But now I’ve decided to go to work for a few hours to make up for some of the reconnect fees I just cost myself.

So I go get ready. Decide to run my round brush through my hair with the hair dryer to smooth it out. What I didn’t realize is that the heat setting had gotten bumped up to high. I never put it on high because it gets way too hot. I run the brush through with the hair dryer pointing at it, and as I pull it down I see hairs falling on the counter.

What??!!

What just happened? I look up to see a nice little area of singed hair, broken off about an inch from the scalp.

Dear God in heaven.

What. Have. I. Done.

I immediately put some conditioning treatment on it to smooth it out. But the damage is done. Thank goodness it was a fairly small amount, and mostly just noticeable to me. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

I only teared up a little. And maybe laughed at myself. Because seriously. Who does that? Me. That’s who.
So I pour my coffee, and head off to work.

I’m almost there and I realize I left my coffee at home.

That’s ok, I’ll just run through the drive thru and get some.

“I’d like a small coffee, no sugar, 4 French vanilla creamers, please.”

(Don’t judge, I like a little coffee with my creamer. Ha)

She hands me the coffee,but no creamer packets.

“They already put it in the coffee for you.”

Nice!

I get to work. Take a sip.

Mud. It tastes like mud. So I open the top. It’s straight up black coffee. No creamer.

Sigh.

Then I get a text from my daughter. It’s a pic of the cat, who has decided to catch a chipmunk, kill it and proceed to eat it right outside my back door on our deck. Ughhh.

What even is this day?
I text Jeff. Tell him why we have no gas service. That it’s 100% my fault. Then I tell him the terrible awful news that it’s out until Tuesday. I expect him to be upset with me. To tell me I need to be more careful and pay better attention to the bills.

But that’s not what I got.

Instead I got this.


Sweet right? Like, I’m kind of melting over here y’all. 😍

And my wonderful co-worker heard about my coffee catastrophe. She says, “hey, I think I actually have a brand new container of French vanilla creamer in my car.”

For real? Is that angels I hear singing?

She just happened to have some of the very kind of creamer I wanted just randomly in her car? Why? Why would you randomly have a single bottle of creamer in your car? And that specific flavor.

I’ll tell you why.

Because Jesus, y’all.

He knew I was gonna need it. He doesn’t miss the details. I kid you not.

That bottle of French vanilla creamer was providence.

That’s how much He loves us. Not just in the big things, but He loves us in the little things too.
I text my sisters about the events of my morning. They offer their showers and their ovens. Because that’s what sisters do.
This day started off badly.

But just as quickly as it had turned ugly, the goodness started to show up.

Grace upon grace upon grace.

Jeff could have chosen to be mad at me. Instead, he chose grace. Kindness and love and encouragement and grace.
And the creamer. Try to tell me that wasn’t a modern day miracle. Coffee is important, y’all.
And my hair? Barely noticeable and a funny story good to give y’all a laugh every time you picture my face when I saw that hair falling.
And the chipmunk and the cat, well… I’m not sure what I could say that would be redeeming about that. Circle of life? That’s what the Lion King would say anyway. RIP chipmunk.
I guess you could say I’ve handed out a good bit of grace over the past year. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that grace is what I got today. I’m a firm believer that what you give away is what you attract back to yourself. Positive energy begets positive energy. Kindness begets kindness.

Grace begets grace.
Who do you need to show grace today? Maybe it’s someone you love that disappointed you. Maybe it’s someone you don’t really even like. Maybe it’s a stranger.

Or maybe , just maybe, it’s yourself.
My immediate reaction to my screw up with the gas bill was to speak negatively of myself. “You’re an idiot. This is your fault. You are doing a bad job at managing this household. You are causing everyone else to deal with the consequences of your stupid mistake. You’ve disappointed everyone.”
But then Jeff’s words brought me back.
“It was just a mistake. Everybody makes them. You have a lot on your plate. You do so much. You do so much and you’re doing a great job.”
It’s just that I like to take care of my people. I hold myself to sometimes unattainable standards of perfection. I expect so much of myself. I like to make people happy.

The worst feeling in the world to me is to feel like I’ve disappointed someone. That I’ve let someone down.

But no matter how much I try to keep those standards and expectations I hold myself to, I’m not perfect. I can’t be everything to everyone and get it right 100% of the time.

I needed that reminder today.
Sometimes it is ourselves that we need to learn to extend grace to the most.
It started out a bad day. But I am constantly reminded that even when things don’t go right, whether it’s a big thing like your marriage or a small thing like your coffee, there are lessons to be learned there. There’s beauty in the brokenness. There’s beauty in our imperfection. Because that’s where the growth happens. That’s where your relationship with God goes deeper. And it’s also where miracles happen. Miracles in marriage, miracles in other life struggles, or maybe even miracles in a bottle of French vanilla creamer.

I’ve said it before , and I’ll keep saying it every day for the rest of my life. There’s goodness here. In the things that go right and in the things that go wrong. There’s goodness everywhere. So let’s all show ourselves a little grace today, and choose to see the goodness.
Amy Thurston Gordy

It’s complicated.

How am I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I said “but I’m still here.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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