Smoke monsters

A few weeks ago we had a pretty big argument. I wish I could tell you what even set it off. What we were even mad at each other about or fighting over, but for the life of me, y’all, I can’t even remember. The fact that I don’t even remember what it was that caused this particular flare up in and of itself is an important detail in this lesson.

We are over 3 and a half years in to our story. And y’all know, since I’ve shared nearly every moment of it with you, how incredibly hard that has sometimes been. Y’all also know how amazing and beautiful it’s been. And now that we are over 3 years in, we tend to have a whole lot more amazing and beautiful and easy days than hard ones.

But every once in a while, one of those old ugly triggers will pop up, or maybe it might not even a be trigger, but maybe just a normal, run of the mill, married couple disagreement. Which, by the way, are never just a normal, run of the mill, married couple disagreement after an affair. Every disagreement, whether related to the affair, or a trigger, or a memory, or not, holds a little more weight. The undertones, the fears, the insecurities, always seem to somehow integrate themselves into these disagreements, no matter how mundane or unrelated those disagreements are. It’s one of those built in consequences of an affair.

So whatever that argument we were having was about on the surface, it quickly became a doubt filled extravaganza focusing on the fact that the affair still has effects on us and whether or not it ever really goes away, (side note: it doesn’t.), and words being tossed out there such as how it’s easy to see why people give up and walk away because it’s frustrating and it’s exhausting….and wait, wait,wait, let’s back up a minute here, did you just insinuate that you are considering walking away…., or that it’s even an option at this point??? Like for real? Is that where we are at right now? And if so, how exactly?? Because I’m pretty sure this is not even close to what we were originally discussing when this argument started, and things haven’t actually been bad between us.

There are alarms going off. Alerting us that something, something isn’t right here. And we both know it. We know we shouldn’t be hurling out these words we’re saying. Deep down we know we don’t mean it. Yet it’s hard to grasp on to that truth because these big, big feelings of frustration feel so big and so real. These things we are saying to each other, they feel real in the moment and larger than life, yet we know, even as we are still saying them, that they don’t quite ring true. And just for a second, we recognize those alarms going off in the back of our minds, and we push through the haze and start to question the direction this argument has taken.

How did we go from a seemingly normal day to we suddenly aren’t sure we can do this anymore? I mean, just yesterday we were great. Weren’t we?? Actually we’ve been great for WAYYY more days than we weren’t. And wait, WHAT were we even arguing about and how did this suddenly turn into every thing is terrible and nothing is really better and we will never get past this? And that’s when the smoke cleared, and we realized that everything is not terrible. Things really are better. And ok, so maybe we aren’t past it, but maybe we shouldn’t really ever fully expect to be. Regardless of the answer to that, one thing is for sure, this argument is not going to be the end of us.

Y’all know how that happens. That downward spiral that starts small and ends up feeling like the bad stuff is all encompassing and all the good stuff fades into the wall of smoke swirling around you, and you suddenly forget that everything IS so much better and you have actually made a TON of progress and you’re so disoriented in the moment that you can’t see that this is all just a giant smoke monster, a dirty little trick that fear is playing on you to ruin all the good God is doing in your life and keep you from the fullness of seeing that through.

But that is the truth of these downward spirals, sucking you further and further in to the dark smoky air, trying to suffocate you and snuff out all the light you’ve worked so hard to find.

A couple of nights ago, the house across the street from us caught on fire. We watched for hours as the firemen fought it. It would be completely out, and then suddenly, a small flame would pop up in a far corner, just the tiniest faint flicker, and within seconds the fire would be raging again. As I watched, it occurred to me how much it reminded me of how an affair ravages a relationship. How in the beginning, after the initial discovery, after the decision to try to find a way to reconcile, the fire just keeps popping back up. Aggressively and persistently. You put one out just for another to pop up. One step forward, three steps back. Every reminder, every argument, every trigger, bursting into a flame that threatens to destroy everything that’s left of you. The fight with those persistent flares seems to last forever. A never ending, exhausting cycle.

The burns you sustain in the fight, the damage to the nerves, causing a nagging, constant pain that never seems to fully dissipate. But you push through, things get better. The pain fades a bit. Sometimes, you almost even forget to notice it at all. It becomes mostly just a small twinge, or maybe a dull ache, that can sometimes get worse and slightly more noticeable when a storm is near. You adjust to it. It becomes a small part of you, and though it’s not something you ever wanted, you learn to see that there can be purpose in it, and that it’s maybe even somehow made you a better version of yourself in some ways. Because it’s made you stronger, wiser, more empathetic. You see that you can rebuild something new in the ashes of what was left from the fire. You see the hope, and the beauty of the possibilities.

The fire is out. but the faint smell of smoke always lingers, the memories clinging to every surface they can find like a dark coat of soot and ash. And somewhere, in the dark corners of the attic, the fear that any tiny sense of a flicker of things not being right between you, tends to stir that fear that you could go up in flames at any moment. Or maybe, the fear that yes, you survived the flames, you survived the fire, you think you’re in the clear, all the smoke has settled, but suddenly and out of nowhere, you’re coughing and struggling to breathe. You survived the flames, but the smoke, the smoke that filled the air for so long after, the after effects of the fire that destroyed everything you knew, that is what can sneak up and kill you if you’re not careful. If you forget that the fresh air that you need to fill your lungs with is right there, just on the other side of that deceptive wall of smoke.

We fought for nearly two days, over that apparently so insignificant a thing that I can’t even recall it now. Because we all know our arguments are never about whatever it is we are arguing about anyway. We all know the argument is actually seated in our fears, our anxieties, our deep seated insecurities. The arguments are not truly about whatever thing you did or didn’t do. They aren’t about the mean words you said when you were angry. The argument is really about these questions: “Do you really love me?, Do I matter to you?, Am I safe?, Do you value me?, Are you going to break my heart?, Will we ever truly get past this?, Did we go through all this, push through all this, just to end up a failure, just to end up with nothing?”….. etc.

It is when you are able to see that these flare ups, these bad days, that, depending on where you are at in your healing might be happening frequently, or only a time or three per year, they aren’t really at all about whatever the fight began with. It’s when you are able to take some time to calm down, and come together and acknowledge that at the core of these flare ups, are all those questions and fears that I just listed, that you’ll be better able to pull yourself back from that destructive spiral, and move past them. All the other stuff, the petty arguments, are just ornamental fluff to the real issues underneath the surface.

So you sit down and have a discussion. And you focus on the truths, the real answer to those questions, instead of the lies fear is feeding you.

1. Do you really love me?: “More than you could ever possibly comprehend.”

2. Do I matter to you?: “Absolutely. You mean the world to me.”

3. Am I safe?: “I hate what I did and will never do that to you, to us, to our family again.”

4. Do you value me?: Yes, and I will never, ever take for granted the gift that you are.”

5. Are you going to ultimately break my heart again?: “I never, ever want to see the pain in your face again that I saw after what I did. Ever.”

6. Will we ever get past this?: Y’ALL PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ONE. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. IT’S ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL YOU HEAR ME ON THIS. An affair is not something you “get past”. It is also not something you will EVER get over. NOT EVER. You will not get over it. Do not expect your spouse to ever “get over it”.

The only way for it to ever disappear from existence would be for someone to be able to go back in time and change the fact that it happened. And that is not possible. It happened, and there are consequences and long lasting effects that there is no way to avoid or make magically disappear. You can make things better. You can even make things great. But you can never, ever take away the fact that it happened, or erase the pain and the scars it caused.

An affair is not something you can ever “get over”. It is something you “get through”.

You do not get over it, any more than you get over any traumatic experience or any great loss. BUT YOU CAN GET THROUGH IT. And you can have a better life, a better marriage, and a million blessings you never, ever imagined not only despite having gone through it, but because of having gone through it.

Even if your marriage didn’t survive, even if reconciliation was not an option for you, you can still get through it, and you’ll find God’s blessings waiting for you along the way.

7. Did we go through all this, push through all this, just to end up a failure, just to end up with nothing?: The answer to this one, well, it’s completely up to you. As far as your marriage goes, it’s up to both of you. Only you can answer how much your marriage is worth to you. Only you know how much of the “hard” you are willing to push through. And you really have no control over your spouse’s choice on this matter. I can’t tell you with certainty that your marriage will survive. But I can tell you that if you are both willing to push through, and to fight your way out of the belly of those smoke monsters that come for you every so often, your chances of having an amazing marriage that you never would have believed to be possible, even on your best days before the affair, are extremely high. It’s not easy, not even a little bit, but the result is worth it.

In the words of our wise counselor and life coach, Joey Grubbs, when I asked him what if we failed, if we spent all this time and energy trying to save our marriage, what if in the end, it just didn’t work, he said : “You will never regret putting in the work to try and save your marriage. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, it’s never a mistake to do everything you can to work towards reconciliation and redemption.” And he was right. Even if we had failed, even if we do fail at some point in the future, I could never regret knowing that we gave it our all. And the work that we’ve done not just in our marriage, but ultimately on ourselves, will serve us well for the rest of our lives. It is never a mistake to work towards being the best version of yourselves, and the best version of your marriage. It is never a mistake to work towards becoming the person that God intended you to be. In the end, no matter what, God is for you. And He has good plans for you, no matter the outcome.

So, today I encourage you to stay the course. When the smoke gets stirred or the sparks start to fly, or you maybe even find yourselves hurling some of that soot at each other, try not to get caught up in it. It’s so easy in that moment of chaos to forget how much progress you have made. How much goodness you actually do have. How far you’ve come and how much you’ve pushed through and the possibilities and opportunities that still lie ahead for you if you will just stay focused, and not lose your way in the smoke.

Fear is a liar. A giant, ugly, smoke monster. He will sneak up and consume you, blind you, and choke the very breath from your lungs if you let him. Don’t let one, or two, or even seven straight bad days trick you into forgetting all of the good ones. When you find yourselves having one of those days where things suddenly seem dark again, look that smoke monster in the eyes and remind him who you are.  Remind yourself who you are. Remember how far you’ve come and all the goodness that you have. Remind yourselves that those big feelings, and those words you’re exchanging in the heat of the moment are not the truth of who you are and where you’re at in this process. Remind yourselves of what you’ve overcome.

Push past that veil of smoke and take a deep, deep breath of the truth.

You’re doing great.

There was a fire, and it was devastating and life altering and you will never, ever forget it. But you survived. All you have to do, is stay the course, get back on track, call those smoke monsters out for the fear mongers and liars that they truly are, focus on the good, and just. keep. breathing.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

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The kindest man I’ve never met.

It’s been a minute since I’ve done any writing, so this week, I wanted to give y’all a little update to my last post.

That was a pretty tough post for me all around. Took me a really long time to get there and even when I knew I was there, there was still some part of me, that stubborn prideful part, that didn’t want to release it into the world, a part of me that still didn’t want to give her the benefit of my forgiveness, forgiveness she’s never given me the benefit of asking for. I can’t tell you how many days I sat on that post, not quite being able to bring myself to press that publish button. I needed to be sure. Sure that I was ready. Sure that I was being truthful. Still somewhat conflicted because although I felt like I could honestly say that I didn’t hate her anymore, I still definitely hated what she did, and I still definitely didn’t like her, at least not the person I knew her to be. It’s a fine line. But not holding on to hatred for a person doesn’t mean you have to like them. And you can dislike a person for who you’ve known them to be, and you can try to understand what kind of brokenness made them become that person, and you can forgive them for it, and you can hope that they are truly the different person they claim to others to be now, and you can wish them well, all at the same time. But it definitely takes some real effort to figure all that out and keep all that straightened out in your head, ha, because honestly, IT’S A LOT.

Even though I meant all of it, every word, no part of that came easily to me. But, when it came down to it, I knew it was more for my benefit than hers.

Real forgiveness is never easy.

But it was necessary, and it was sincere, and I felt better for having done it.

Now for the interesting part of the follow up… y’all remember how torn I was about how we’d both been attending the same church? Not because seeing her bothered me, but because I worried about how her husband felt about seeing us?

Well, that very next Sunday after I wrote that blog, we were walking down the long sidewalk to go in to church. As we approached the building, we crossed over the driveway and walked beside the building. Just as we were about to make the turn to go up the stairs to the entrance, out of the corner of my eye I see her husband, alone, on the other sidewalk, about to cross the driveway towards the stairs.

Oh my goodness.

I mean.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS, Y’ALL???

I mean, we had all seen each other, on several occasions there over the last few months. But there was always space in between us. It was in a passing car, or across the foyer, or a sanctuary section or two over. Close enough to make eye contact, but not side by side, not close enough to speak or for any type of real physical contact.

How was this going to go? It all happened in a matter of seconds.

Before I even really had time to fully process the situation, there we were, side by side. Him, myself, and Jeff, all approaching the stairs…literally, together.

I slowed and let him walk ahead. I see his eyes dart towards us quickly as he passes. I was so torn. Do I acknowledge him? No. I can’t do that to him. Not with Jeff right here.

What happens when we get to the door? Does Jeff hold the door for him? Will he hold the door for us? Oh, this is just awkward.

And then, OH THANK GOD for door holders. I forgot there’s always a door holder! God bless you Mr. Door holder. Today you are truly doing the work of the Lord! 😂

In my head I’m thinking, there’s probably a thousand people here today, and what are the odds the 3 of us end up in the EXACT same spot at the EXACT same time? Normally, there are groups of people walking in at the same time as we are. But not this day. We are literally the ONLY people in this particular space, walking in. It makes ZERO sense that this is happening.

I tried to read his face, but couldn’t decide what he was thinking, or how uncomfortable he was, if at all. I’ve felt torn for months between feeling like I should approach him and also feeling like maybe it was more appropriate not to. Not really knowing which was the right thing. It’s an odd thing, him and me. We are two people that have never actually met in person, that don’t really know each other at all, yet in some ways, know each other better than anyone else could because we went through a traumatic, life changing experience together. He’s someone that on one hand, for both our sakes, I wish I’d never known, yet on the other hand, am so thankful to know. So here we are, two people with no real connection to each other outside of the fact that our spouses had an affair together, forever connected in a way that’s hard to explain other than to say that we are similar types of people, that we both have the same beliefs, and share many of the same values. We had a good bit of contact with each other those first few months after finding out about the affair. At the time I was still struggling with whether or not I even wanted to reconcile with Jeff, and was leaning more towards not. He on the other hand was very much set on trying to reconcile his relationship with his wife. And since we both still had so much anger for the other’s spouse, it was difficult for us to support each other in reconciling our marriages. Although our conversations were also supportive and encouraging of each other and what we were going through on a personal level, they also always ended up including discussions of the things they did and the lies they told, and that was not conducive to healing. So we knew it was best that we disconnect so as not to bring that negativity to each other and interfere with that process. So we wished each other well, and had not talked since that last conversation.

And although we don’t really know each other, I think we both immediately felt a kindredness in our spirits, from our very first conversation, and have both wanted the best for each other since day one. So I say all that to say that when that happened that morning, walking in side by side with us, the thought that our being there, in that close of proximity, may have caused him distress…all day it just weighed so heavily on me. Because he’s a good man. His happiness and well being matters to me. I guess the best way to explain it is that when I think of him, it’s like he’s another version of me, if that makes any sense at all. Like a mirror image, with the same hopes and the same scars. I want him to have the desires of his heart, for his family to be whole, for him to have all the goodness and happiness as surely as I want all of those things for myself. And doing anything to cause him any pain is just not an option. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So a couple of days later I decided I needed to reach out to him. To apologize for that awkward walk into church with us. For not talking to him sooner about it. To clear the air and find out for sure how he felt about everything.

And his response…was completely unexpected.

“There is absolutely no apology needed for anything at all. This may sound crazy, but Amy, you could walk into church next Sunday, sit down in the seat right beside me, and I would not have a clue who you were. I have no idea what either of you look like. I never looked y’all up. It was just easier for me, not having a face to go with the man in the visions in my head of my wife with someone else.”

Wait, what??? Wait, wait wait. Did you just say you have no idea what we look like? Like, for real, you have no idea?

Y’ALL , I have no words.

I’m just kidding. I obviously have lots of words. So let me start with saying this:

That, I did not expect.

Wow. Just wow. I did not see that coming.

It never, EVER occurred to me that he didn’t know what we looked like. I mean, I knew basically everything, every detail about her, him, their families, their friends, their work… everything, within a couple of days of finding out about the affair. I’m an information girl. I have a need to know, even when it’s sometimes maybe not in my best interest. In some ways I think that is just an innate part of me and my personality, of who I am. But I think it also comes from my deep seated fears of having no control. The more informed you are, the more in control you feel. Although that isn’t necessarily true, it creates a sense of control whether it be real or imagined. So between my natural born personality traits combined with my fears, I’m basically an information, fact finding junkie. Sometimes it serves me well and is an asset to myself and even others, and other times, it’s probably slightly unhealthy. But the thought of having the self control to not look them up. Like at all. In over 3 years. That was mind blowing to me. He knew what was best for him. And he stuck to it and never gave in to any temptation to veer from that. That takes serious resolve and strength and I’m a bit in awe of his ability to do that. I would never have been capable of it. It would have made me even more crazy , the not knowing. But for him, not having the image of Jeff’s face in his head helped keep him sane.

I told Jeff what he said. Jeff’s first response was “No way. There’s no way. I mean, I don’t need to know things at the level that you need to know things but no way would I, in his position, be able to keep myself from looking him up. I would be too curious not to want to know what the guy that my wife cheated on me with looked like.”

But I explained to him that it would make no sense and serve no purpose for him to say that if it were not true. I mean, this was his opportunity to either reply that yes, he had seen at church and he’s fine with it, or yes he’d seen us at church and he hated it and to please never ever come back. There was absolutely no reason at all to say that he didn’t know who we were if he did.

And now, it made sense, the reason why I felt like I could never quite read his reaction to us, is because he CLEARLY WAS NOT HAVING ONE, because he didn’t know who we were!

Y’all. Never would I have come up with that, in any scenario I had imagined in how this might play out.

So, anyway… long story short. He’s doing great. He says it had been hard, as I would well know, but that things were good and that she truly is a changed person and that they are happy. I didn’t ask him if she was sorry for the pain she caused me or why she never apologized to me. A small part of me kind of wanted to. But that’s not a question he should have to answer. That’s between me and her, and like I said, if I never get an answer on that, that’s ok, because my forgiveness no longer hinges on her asking for it, and so ultimately, it’s really between her and God.

We had a great conversation. We discussed the miracle of redemption, the miracle of both of us making it through all of this with our families intact. And how grateful we were to be able to have this conversation after all this time and to know that the other was doing well. He said hearing from me meant the world to him, because he had thought about me and the girls and wondered if we were ok and that he had prayed for us all this time, that God would make sure that we would somehow come out ok through all this mess. It meant a lot to him to know that we were doing well.

He’s ok with us being there, and since he has no clue what we even look like, he would never know us if he saw us anyway. (Guess it’s a good thing I never approached him after all, ha. And especially a good thing I resisted the urge to go hug his neck. That would have been really, really awkward.😂 Also it occurs to me that the several times we did lock eyes and I thought he knew who I was, he must have been thinking “what is this woman looking at me for?”) 🤦🏻‍♀️

He also told me that he felt strongly that my faith could be a real encouragement to others that are going through this. Side note: before he said this, he had no idea that this blog existed or that I had ever shared our story. He was happy when I told him about it, and said he really believed God could use it for the good of others. It encouraged him that God was using our pain for something bigger than all of us.

Anyway, it was a good talk, something I think we both needed to move forward. It did our hearts good to know the other was doing well, and I would say that he is most definitely the kindest man I’ve never met. Ha.

So although the odds of us walking in side by side that week were pretty slim, 3 out of a thousand or more, it was no accident. It was God prompting me to reach out to him, so we could have a conversation that God knew we both needed to have, to have the assurance that the other is doing well, and to move forward in this situation and to give us both some peace.

God is in the details y’all.

So, now that y’all are all caught up, stay tuned for my next post. This stormy, lazy day inspired me to write, so today I’ve written two! Making up for lost time, I suppose. It’s somewhat difficult to work a full time job, manage a family, keep up with all the household stuff and somehow find or carve out time to be a writer too. I know I need to devote more time to it, so I’m gonna work on that. Thank you, my sweet friend Susan, for the unexpected encouraging message you sent me last week. I think God knew I needed a little nudge to get back to it. And thank you to the kind stranger in another state that sent me a Facebook message this week. I kind of forget how far these posts go sometimes, and your message of what my posts and our story meant to you brought me to tears and reminded me of the importance of continuing to share our story so openly. To know that our story and my words here on these pages gave you the hope to press forward and made a difference for you, means more to me than you’ll ever know. Occasionally, I check the stats on the blog, the number of views, the countries it reaches all over the world, and those numbers go up and go down, and so I don’t think much of it. Now that the more dramatic part of our story has passed, it doesn’t get viewed quite as much as it did when the stories were slightly more shocking. Over the years I’ve gotten lots of messages on and off, similar to this one. And there have been local people that have reached out, that we have personally invested in that I know we’ve been an encouragement to. So I know God has used our story for good things. But it’s been a while, since things have died down a bit, since I’d gotten a message from anyone far away, and this message came shortly after Susan’s message in which she said she felt strongly the need to encourage me to keep writing and that it had more of an effect than I would ever know. So when I received this message from a stranger a few days later, I sat at my desk in tears at the thought that my seemingly, in my eyes anyway, small platform, somehow, divinely, no doubt, found its way to this couple, and God used it to give them exactly the hope they needed. That verse about how God leaves the 99 for the 1. This is the meaning of it. God cared enough for that one person, to put my little blog in front of him when he needed it most. And if that was as far as it ever went, then it still served an amazing purpose. It’s the 1 that he cares about. And every single one of us are His 1, and He will always, always show up for us, bringing us what we need to find our way.

I may or may not ever grow to have the following that some others have. I may or may not ever have a book published around the world. I may or may not ever speak from stages to crowds of people. And truly, it doesn’t matter. To know that it made a difference, even if it were just for this one, makes it all worth it. I’m humbled and blessed that God would use me to make a difference in anyone’s life, and to be the messenger of His goodness.

And to think that this guy actually apologized for bothering me on my personal page with his message. Those kinds of messages are never, ever a bother or an intrusion, and they bless me more than I can ever put into words.

So thank you, and know that all of you out there, you all give me back every bit and more of the hope and encouragement that you say I’ve brought to you, and for that, I am so thankful.

The subject of the next post is triggers, smoke monsters, what arguments are really about, downward spirals, breathing in the truth and staying on course. I’ve got a little more editing and fine tuning to get that one ready, so come back tomorrow for that one.

Love y’all.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Dear 2018

Dear 2018,

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

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

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

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

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

And that is exactly what He did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Make the space

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

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

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

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

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

So today, I write.

Today I write about making space.

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

With Jeff, it happened like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just make the space.

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

Feels like freedom

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

And I was doing a pretty good job of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It broke me.

EVERY SINGLE part of me.

But I survived it.

WE survived it.

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

I’ll never be the same.

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

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

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

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

That life can be good again.

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

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

And sometimes, broken is beautiful.

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

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

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

There’s no peace for you, they say.

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

You’ll always be broken, they say.

And the worst one….

I can ruin you again, they say.

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

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

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

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

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

Because God says no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Because God says He gives us a new heart.

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

Because God says He will make all our paths straight.

Because God says He is for us.

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

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

Because God says we are more than conquerors.

Because He says He makes all things new.

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

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

And I SAY so.

I am redeemed.

WE ARE REDEEMED.

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

You had your day. And that day has passed.

You tore us down, but He built us up.

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

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

Love won the war.

Matthew 7:25

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

❤️

Amy Thurston Gordy

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