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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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

This is my cup

He’s been asking me for weeks if I’m ok. “Yes”, I’d say. “I’m fine.” And I’d think to myself, everything is great. I am fine. I. Am. Fine. 

And for the most part I was. 

As I’ve been telling y’all, things are good for us. Really, really good. We are in such a good place in our relationship and in our lives.

Yet it was there. That little knawing feeling. That undercurrent of sadness. That heaviness in my chest. Creeping back yet again. It had been gone for so long this time. But they were back. Those tiny little thought bubbles, trying so hard to make their way to the surface, releasing their rancid contents of painful memories when they make it to the top. They were stupid random things. 

Like making dinner. Just standing there making dinner, and my mind wandered back to the first time they were together. 

I had made a nice dinner that night. I don’t cook big meals a lot, so I thought “he’s going to be excited to come home to this.” 

I was excited to see him. I remember missing him that day. When you’ve been together as long as we have, you don’t necessarily miss them as often during the work day the way you do in the beginning. You take each other for granted a little I guess. But that day, I remember missing him, and wanting him to be home. 

I had timed dinner to be done at just the right time so it would still be fresh and hot, knowing how long it would take him to get home from Forsyth. That time came and went. And I waited. The girls were hungry, so I told them to go ahead and eat. I texted him. No response. I remember a feeling of anxiety coming over me. I fixed him a plate, thinking he was probably going to pull up any minute. 

He’s really late now. 

I’m sitting alone. The nice dinner on the plates in front of me is getting cold. I text again. 

This time I get a reply. He’s so sorry, but his replacement showed up late and he had to wait on her, so he could give report. But he should be leaving soon. 

His replacement wasn’t late. He wasn’t completely lying. He WAS still at the hospital. But not in the building. Not working. Not waiting on anyone. 

And I was sitting. Waiting on him. With a beautiful plate of food on the table. 

And it was cold. 
It’s amazing how a vision of something as simple as a cold plate of food can tear your heart apart. 
Then there was the car. Her car. 
A black SUV. 

It’s where it happened, so black SUV’s have always been a bit of a trigger for me. The only details I knew were that it had dark tinted windows, which provided privacy for them, oh and her initials on the back. When I would notice one, I couldn’t help but do a double take. Is that her? Is that one her? Wait, was it a Ford? A Chevrolet? A Toyota? 

I didn’t know. And so since I didn’t know, I saw them in EVERY one. 

And over the past few weeks, for whatever reason I don’t know, it was as if they were always in my line of vision. They. Were. EVERYWHERE. And every one I saw brought me visions of him getting into the car with her. Being in the car with her. Every. Single. One. 

Do y’all know how many black suv’s you see on a daily basis? 

A lot. 

I haven’t asked him for any details in a long time. But this weekend I asked him for just this one. The actual make and model of her black SUV. So I could maybe at least stop picturing them in every single one I see. It sounds nuts, I realize that. The pain of betrayal does crazy things to a person. This was one of my triggers and believe it or not, knowing the specific make of her car helped to weaken that trigger so I can move beyond it. One specific model of car is easier to avoid than a million black SUV’s. 

I don’t like to think about her. And most of the time , I really don’t anymore. But sometimes it feels as if she’s a ghost, popping in to haunt me. To torment me. And sometimes it’s harder than others to make her disappear. 
Honestly, I think my brain has just been on a bit of affair overload. It seemed like every other day for almost a month, someone else was having an affair, or finding out that their spouse was. Some people I knew as acquaintances, some I knew as friends, and some I didn’t even know on a personal basis. But regardless, each time, my heart just sank. Knowing the pain each one was feeling. And I wanted to help. To give support. To give advice. But mostly to try and give them a little comfort. A little hope. 

Maybe all of that played into this undercurrent of sadness I mentioned earlier. I just felt, for lack of a better word, heavy.  And heavier. And heavier, until Jeff finally looks at me and says, “you’re not fine. You’re pretending you’re fine. But I know when you’re struggling.” 

I’ve learned to hide it. To control it and push it back enough that if you were to see me on one of these days, you couldn’t see it. It’s just an undercurrent. Not enough of a nuisance to keep me from being able to function fully on the surface. I can mostly ignore it until the still and quiet of night sets in, and the busy-ness of the day wears off. But Jeff sees it. He always sees it. 

“What can I do? I don’t like it when you get sad. It means I’m missing something. I’m afraid it means I’m not giving you what you need to feel happy or secure. It means I’m not doing my job.”
That sweet man. 
I look at that sweet, sweet man of mine, and I say, “it’s not you. At least not really. Not this you. You are doing everything right. It’s what that other guy, the old you. It’s what he did. And it’s stupid. It’s stupid because he doesn’t even exist anymore. And I don’t know why I let someone that doesn’t exist anymore still hurt me so much.” 
 And I don’t know why the smallest details that bubble up from that undercurrent , like the thought of that cold plate of food, or a black SUV, hold the most stinging venoms. And to some degree, I had been fighting that slow spreading venom for weeks. 

But it was time to deal with it. 

So I told him. I told him about the cold food. About the black SUV’s. About how it felt sometimes like she was a ghost that wouldn’t leave. 

“Have you tried forgiving her?”, he asked. 
[Insert large, heavy sigh here.]
I’ve tried.  Oh goodness, I’ve tried. 

A million different times in a million different ways. I’ve tried thinking it. I’ve tried telling myself that I forgive her. I’ve tried praying. I’ve tried analyzing. I’ve tried to see her in a different light. I’ve tried to make myself say it out loud. I literally couldn’t get the words out. I’ve tried. I haven’t figured it out yet. And I know that I need to. I know that I won’t see God’s full potential in our story until I figure this out. 
People look to me. They look to me as a pillar of hope. And maybe I am that. I hope that I am that. But they also believe that I’m this pillar of strength and forgiveness. 

But in that moment when I’m baring my soul to Jeff that night, I tell him that I don’t feel like I am actually those things. That it’s just not true. 

I forgive Jeff. I really, really do. It’s not even hard. He’s amazing. As a matter of fact, he’s so amazing and wonderful that people actually forget that he ever did it. My own sister, when talking about someone else that had a history of cheating, made the comment about that person in a conversation last week. She said, “once a cheater, always a cheater.” 
It’s a phrase that for those of us that have chosen to stay in a relationship after infidelity , makes us cringe a little. Because honestly, for some people, that statement can prove to be true. And it’s probably our innermost fear. 

And I feel certain she saw the look in my eyes when she said it. 

“Oh! I mean, not everyone! Not Jeff. It’s not true of Jeff. He’s different. Oh gosh, I’m sorry. Honestly, he’s redeemed himself so much , I forget he ever actually did that.”

And it’s true. He’s gone above and beyond. 

But the other woman, I don’t know. I don’t know the effort she’s made to redeem herself. With God. With her family. Her husband. Or her friends. But I do know she never made the effort to redeem herself with me. 

Forgiving someone that isn’t sorry. It’s hard to figure out. 

And that, I think is a whole other blog for a whole other day. 
“It sounds to me like you are listening to a lot of negative things about yourself that just aren’t true”, Jeff said. “You ARE a pillar of forgiveness. You forgave me for the unforgivable. For things that most people could never forgive, much less choose to love again. And you ARE a pillar of strength.”

(He says as my face is streaming rivers of tears and I’m sniffling away.) 

I responded, “Am I? Does this look like the face of a person that is a pillar of strength?”

He says, “That face is the face of the strongest person I’ve ever known.” 
Pastor Buren said something recently in a sermon a few weeks ago, in the Easter service. He was speaking about Jesus when He prayed before his crucifixion. “Lord, if there be any way, please take this cup from me.”
And for these past few weeks… maybe this past year and a half, I think I’ve been praying the same thing. In that moment of despair, He wished there was another way. That human side of him wanted a different cup. 

But it was his cup. It was the cup he was given. 

I too wanted a different cup. 

I told Jeff, “I just want so desperately to change something that can’t be changed. I want it to never have happened. I want more than anything something that I can never have. I want to go back to that night and I want you to say no. I want you to have seen in that moment the pain and destruction it would cause and I want you to have seen in your minds eye the way that it would torture me and I want you to have walked away and gotten in your own car and drove home to me and sat with me and that the food that I put on your plate that night had never gotten cold. I’m not ungrateful for what we have now. But right now. In this moment, I’d rather have you there, eating that warm food. I don’t care if that means that I wouldn’t be this person now, I don’t care if I’d never started writing. I don’t care if I never wrote a single word. I don’t care if it means that we couldn’t have helped any of the people that have come to us. I don’t want to be the example. ”

Wow. 

Yep. I said all of that. 
But basically, what I was really saying , was 

“I. Don’t. Want. This. Cup. ”

And I’d say that wasn’t just me not wanting the cup. I’m pretty sure that was me not just refusing to accept it, but hurling it as hard as I could at the wall in an attempt to shatter it. 
[insert large heavy sigh, here…again]
Back to what Pastor Buren said. He said “sometimes, you just have to drink the cup you’re given.” 
It didn’t really click with me when he said it. Matter of fact, I thought, “well, that’s not real encouraging or positive.” I mean, aren’t we supposed to think positively and expect better for our lives, and doesn’t God want the very best for us?” And I wasn’t sure how this statement he had made fit in with that theology. 
And it took me a few weeks. 

But now I get it.

I had a weak moment. Ok, maybe I’ve had a LOT of moments. 

I didn’t want the cup I was given. That’s ok. 

Neither did Jesus.

And maybe I took that a step further when I figured out I couldn’t do anything to change the past. It’s unchangeable. Nothing and no one can ever make it cease to exist, or change the fact that it happened. 

My blog may be named “Not My Story”, but this IS my story. 

This IS my cup. 

And I’ve held it. Although for the most part reluctantly. I’ve looked for the good. I’ve been thankful for the blessings. I’ve allowed it to be used for the good of others. 

But such a big part of me, has really just been like Jesus in that garden. Knowing what was required of Him. Knowing what needed to be done. Wanting the goodness that He knew would come from it, but also so overwhelmed with the sorrow of it that he desperately wanted that cup to be taken from Him. 

He didn’t choose his cup any more than I did. His cup was the result of the sins of man. Not his own, but all of ours. It was our bad choices that filled his cup. My cup was also the result of sin. And also not my own. The bad choices of the man I loved and the woman I’ve despised filled my cup. 

But in the end there was no other way. 

He had to drink the cup that was given him. 
If he had chosen not to, there would be no redemption. 

There would be no goodness.

There would be no hope.
My cup has been poured. I can’t give the cup back. There’s a strict no returns policy. 

I can throw it against the wall as much as I want. But it will still be mine. 

I can’t just keep glaring at it, willing it to disappear. Not only does that not work, it’s exhausting.

Sure, I’ve taken a few sips here and there. I’ve allowed God to turn some of the sour wine into something sweeter. 

But it’s time I drink the cup. 

Jesus had a moment, but he worked through the pain and then he drank the cup. And because of that, the world was forever changed. Men’s hearts were changed. The course of eternity was changed. 
Not thy will but thine. 
It was only when Jesus accepted the cup he was given and gave up his own will that God was able to use Him to redeem everything that needed to be redeemed. And so it also is with us. It is only when we accept our cup that He can use it to redeem everything that He wants to redeem with it. 

It’s there, in the acceptance, that the power of change is found. 

It’s there, when we finally drink the cup that’s given us, that we can find true redemption. It’s there that He works all things for our good. It’s there that we find God’s best for us. The beauty for the ashes. The joy instead of mourning.

And it’s not just for us. The redemption that pours from that cup spreads to others. 

If you want to see how big God really is, if you want to see how good He really is, if you want to see the fullness of His plan for your life….

you have to drink the cup.

I didn’t mean what I said that night about giving it all back. Do I wish it didn’t happen? Of course I do. 

But it happened. And I love the life I have now. I love my husband and the amazing person he has become. I love the friendships that have been born out of the aftermath. I love the blessings that God has so abundantly poured out on us. I love that Jeff found deliverance from his addiction. I love that we are both becoming our true selves. I love writing. I love the freedom that our transparency and authenticity has brought us. I love sharing the goodness of God and I love that we can give people hope. 

I don’t love the steep price it all came at. I don’t love the scars it left behind. A part of me may always wish that I could have had all of this without the price we had to pay for it. But it is what it is. 

Life is not perfect. 
But God’s plan for us is. 

So we can choose to keep trying to give the cup back. Or maybe even keep smashing it against the wall. 
Or we can choose to just accept it, and watch how God uses it to redeem us. Watch how He turns it from sour to sweet. Maybe, just maybe, even watch how He uses it to change the world, to change the hearts of men, to change eternity.

 

Thank you Pastor Buren, for speaking to my heart, even if I didn’t know at first that it was for me. I have a feeling it was actually for a lot of people. Thank you Jeff, for not growing weary of waiting on my heart to heal and for being a man that wants nothing more than to piece it back together. 

And thanks to all of you, who keep coming back here and reading my words. Thank you for not judging us in our failures, for being our cheerleaders, for praying for us. For being faithful, faithful friends. 

And as I finally try to fully accept this cup that’s been given me, I pray that the goodness and the sweetness and the redemption that pours from it touches every single one of you. 

💗

Amy Thurston Gordy

Finding the magic

I’ve always had a soft spot for all things Disney. There’s just something about the fairy tales, the dreams come true, the good overcoming evil, the hope that all his stories inspire.

I love everything about Disney World. The sights, the smells, (there is nothing in the world quite like the glorious smell of walking down Main Street USA) the rides, the food. Even the lines.

Because it forces you to stand still in an ever moving world. To stop and talk to the people you love. To watch and see the people going by, and imagine what their stories are.

Disney World has always been a special place for our family. Jeff and I were supposed to honeymoon there. We had it all planned out. We were going to stay in the Contemporary resort, with a view of the castle from our room. The nasty flu I came down with on our wedding day ruined those plans, and that honeymoon never happened. But when Emily turned 5, we planned our first family adventure.

We stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Emily learned to swim there in the resort pool.

I’ll never forget the magic in her eyes and the joy on her face as we walked down Main Street for the first time and she caught view of that castle. Pure magic.


Then Anna Kate came along. And when she turned 5, we planned a special first trip for her.

And again, the joy and wonder I saw in her eyes was something I’ll never forget.


After that year, we returned almost every year for our family vacation. We’d been bitten by the Disney bug. We would always say, “we should go somewhere else this year”, but always ended up feeling the pull to go back.

There was just something about the magic it brought to our family and we just couldn’t stay away.

In 2013, we took our last family trip to Disney. It was Emily’s 16th birthday.

The next year, 2014, we didn’t go because we had planned a California coast trip. We finally did something other than Disney that year because we wanted to do something grand and memorable, knowing that Emily would be graduating the next spring and we wanted to do something special.

And the year after that, well… 2015 happened. The affair happened.

And after the affair, it felt like everything about our world changed.

There was no family vacation.

That October, Anna Kate and I joined my parents and family at the beach. Emily couldn’t leave school and Jeff and I were separated, and I remember thinking that we should have been at Disney World.

I remember the grief I felt over the realization that we would never do that as a family again.

It was one of the first things that Anna Kate said when she realized that we were getting a divorce.

“But we will never go to Disney all together again.”

So this year, after all we had been through, it seemed right that we should plan a trip to Disney World. It’s such an inherent part of who we are, and who we are as a family. And it’s one of the very few parts of the old us that we actually wanted to keep.

So back in the spring I started planning. And this year, since all things are new, I decided to switch it up a bit. Instead of October, which is when we would normally go, we would go in December. I’ve always wanted to go at Christmas time. We were supposed to have gone at Christmas time for our Honeymoon, so this year, 25 years later, we would finally get to do that.

And as it turned out, this time we ended up staying at the same resort that we stayed in on that very first trip with Emily.

It didn’t really happen that way purposefully, it’s just where they had available rooms, but I like the symbolism of it. Full circle.

Jeff’s sister, his cousin, and their families joined us, and Emily’s boyfriend also came along. It was his first visit ever. Which was great because there’s just something magical about watching someone experience Disney for the first time.


We spent time together with the whole group and we had time alone for just our family.

And Anna Kate’s boyfriend’s family was vacationing there for a couple of days too, so we got to spend some time with him also, which made her super happy.


It was definitely a little different seeing them there, so grown up now with boyfriends, holding their hands instead of ours, but sweet to see how you never really outgrow the magic. It stays with you.

It was a little more crowded than what we are use to, but being the Disney expert that I am, we were able to plan out our days to avoid the crowds and long waits and make the best use of our time there. If y’all need tips, let me know. They don’t call me Mrs. Disney for nothing.

And the food. Oh the glorious food!

Steaks, lobster, gourmet sandwiches, pasta, sticky wings and dumplings, bananas foster bread pudding, creme brûlée. And the snacks! Ohhh the snacks!


Pretzels, churros, fresh caramel corn, ice cream, and the amazing Dole Whip pineapple float.


And there is nothing in this world as good as a Mickey waffle. You can’t go to Disney World and not have a Mickey waffle.


Have y’all figured out yet that the food is a good 75% of the reason I go? That percentage may or may not actually be higher, but we will go with 75% so as not to make me look like a complete glutton. Ha.

It was an amazing trip. I wish we could have had just a couple more days to fit in a few more things we didn’t get around to doing.


The decorations were beautiful.

The food was amazing.

The Christmas spirit was everywhere.

And standing there, in the midst of all that magic, I couldn’t help but feel it.



Being there, as a family again, in a place so full of memories. All of the really good ones. The ones where we were whole. The ones where we were hopeful. The ones where we were the best parts of our former selves. Realizing that we didn’t lose all of who we were. We kept a little bit, that little bit of magic within us.

And finding that little bit of magic, there in that magical place with the people I love the most, felt like everything was right in the world again.

It felt like joy.

It felt like a gift.

It felt like reclaiming something that had been stolen, and thought to be lost forever.

It felt like….

Redemption.

Amy Thurston Gordy