Wake me up when September ends

September.
I used to love it.
Still enough summer left to enjoy the pool, but also just a hint of fall in the air. There was always a kind of crispness to September. New school routines becoming more settled, pumpkins popping up in front of the stores. Scents of cinnamon and spice and pumpkin and baked goods signaling the impending arrival of fall and all the comforts that season brings. Cozy nights with a fire and a fluffy blanket. Chili, hot chocolate, apple cider, candy corn, caramel apples, pumpkin cupcakes, football food, fall festivals. Planning fall vacations. Holidays.
(And suddenly as I read this back I’m realizing that almost all of that consists of references to food. Ha;)
So much goodness.
These are the things I used to think of in September.

But now…well, I still think of all those things.
But September is also a terrible reminder of the worst day of my life.

And I know that I have to choose to not focus on that. I’m doing my best. But if I’m being honest, it’s not always particularly easy. I’m trying not to think about it. But it’s there. Always under the surface. Sometimes closer to the surface than others.
I don’t choose to have thoughts or memories pop up, I don’t choose to feel the sadness those things bring. But when they come I have to choose to fight them.
It’s still a struggle sometimes. Those thoughts and feelings are a pretty strong adversary, but I AM stronger.
And getting stronger by the day.

Things are good.
Really, really good. I know this. I’m happy.
I’m thankful. So thankful. Rebuilding this marriage, what we have been able to do, I do not take it for granted.
God continues to pour out His blessings on us every day.
One of my favorite songs at the moment has a verse that says “I know you hear me, I know you see me Lord. Your plans are for me, goodness you have in store.”
And He does. He has nothing but goodness for us.
That’s what I want to focus on.

But despite that, sometimes the ache still gets to me.
It’s like an old injury that you can almost forget you had.
Almost.

Someone swings a bat, oblivious to anyone around them and it comes around and makes contact with your leg.
The sound is deafening.
Cracking, splintering, shattering. The pain is searing.
Nearly unbearable.
You go into shock. It immobilizes you.
Weeks and months pass. After many prayers, therapy, determination and hard work, you are back on your feet again. The fact that you are walking is nothing short of a miracle.
And the searing hot pain is gone….mostly.
Sometimes you almost forget about it. Except that there always seems to be that dull ache. You’ve become so accustom to it, that you almost don’t notice it.
It just is.
So you just learn to live with it. You learn coping mechanisms, some good, some probably not so good. But you just keep pushing through. You find a way to live with it. Because you decide, for you, there really is no other option. You could choose to wallow in the pain, which just intensifies the pain, or you suck it up and you push the pain away and focus on everything else so you can live your life.

And the person that caused you that injury, they are sorry. So very sorry. And you forgive them.
And it’s easy for them now. Easy for them to forget and live their lives. They don’t have any lingering pain or scars or after effects. They’ve become a new person. They aren’t that person that hurt you anymore.
Except for having to deal with the occasional moments you allow them to see your ache, they can easily wipe the memory of the person they used to be from their minds.
They are just a clean slate.
And you envy that.
You envy that so much that sometimes you secretly wish that you were them and they were you.
It’s so simple for them.

You want it to be that simple for you too.

The words ARE simple.
Easy.

You’re healed.
You’re walking.
Life is great.
Let it go.

But although that bone has healed so much, it’s not the same. The fracture lines are still there, and there’s always that dull ache. And sometimes, with just the slightest change in the weather, that dull ache can become so loud, and so insistent that you just can’t block it out. It doesn’t happen quite as often anymore, but still, you find yourself wondering sometimes if these episodes of increased pain will ever completely stop. And you find yourself wondering if that deep dull ache ever truly ends, or if it’s there to stay.
It’s a constant reminder.
And you wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Maybe it’s a little of both.

Bad because pain is, well…painful.
And distracting.
Makes it harder to focus.
But it’s also a constant reminder that despite how bad things were, how truly good things are now.

It’s a reminder of the fact that you didn’t stay there.
A reminder of how far you’ve come.
A reminder that you don’t live there anymore.

You live in light and joy and redemption.

So maybe one day the ache will completely disappear, or maybe you have to learn to view that ache as Paul did when God wouldn’t remove “the thorn in his flesh”. Maybe you have to learn to let that be a reminder of God’s grace and your gratitude and “count it all joy”.

Either way, the goodness wins. Either way, the goodness defeats the ache.

The day is coming. D-day. The anniversary of the worst day ever.
I don’t want to let it be that. It’s a date on a calendar. It shouldn’t own me or my emotions.
So I’m trying to think of something to do or somewhere to go. Some way to fill that day up this year with fun and happiness and joy. Just something to create some new memories for that day. (Suggestions and ideas are appreciated πŸ™‚ I have thought that one day we might even use that day to renew our vows. But if I decide to do that, not this year. I want a little more prep time to plan for that!)
I just want to find some way to spend our day focusing on each other and all the things we have to celebrate. Our new and better marriage. His one year mark of being porn free. The many, many blessings we have been given in this past year. I want to celebrate the goodness.

If I fill that day up year after year with new and better memories, then the negative memories will fade more and more and the goodness will overtake the bad.

One day this season in our lives will be just a season. Just a fact in the story of our lives. One day I will be so far out from this injury my heart has endured, that I won’t notice the ache anymore. One day when I see my scars, I won’t think of the pain anymore. Only the beauty that came after the pain.

So I’m gonna retract the title of this blog. Don’t wake me up when September ends. I’m not hiding out or sleeping through it.

There’s goodness to be found, and I don’t want to waste a single day of it.

Bring it on September.
I think I’m ready for you.

Amy Thurston Gordy

Not Restored

Restoration. It’s a word that is used a lot when speaking about broken marriages, and infidelity. It’s repeated over and over in discussions, articles, books, videos, you name it. It’s everywhere. It seems to be a go to word when referring to healing a broken marriage. I’ve used it myself, but for some reason I always get stuck.

Like when a record hits a scratch and starts skipping. Or when your sweater gets snagged and stuck on something. That’s what that word feels like to me when I say it. It just never feels or sounds quite right.

Because the definition of restoration is:
β€’ the action of returning something to a former condition,
β€’ the process of repairing or renovating so as to restore it to its original condition
β€’ the reinstatement of a previous practice, right, custom, or situation.

When you find yourself in a situation such as mine, it is not restoration that you seek.

Sure, in the first days, even months after discovery, you long for what was. You mourn for the life you were living before. Before EVERYTHING changed.
But one day you realize, that life never actually existed. It wasn’t what you thought it was.

Your perception was your reality but your reality was not the truth.

And when you see it clearly in the light of day, it’s not something you want back. While you definitely don’t want this turmoil and pain and uncertainty that your life has become after, you don’t want the illusion of the life you had before either.

So you come to a place of , “What now? What do I want? What do I want my life to look like?”
And honestly, in the beginning, it’s a hard question to answer.
Because there in that place, where you see that the life you had wasn’t at all what you thought it was, and the life you have now most certainly isn’t at all what you wanted it to be, the idea of what you do want it to be or how to get there, can be a difficult thing to envision.
The ONLY thing you know for certain is what you DON’T want it to be. Because now you’ve seen it. You’ve lived it. You’ve felt the pain. You’ve endured the heartache of this story that you did not want.
And so you know. You KNOW that you never want to end up there again.

So restoration is not the right word.

The goal is not to “restore” our marriage.

The goal is to REBUILD it.

We recently renovated our kitchen.
It started with a vision of what we wanted. That vision started with just a few pieces. We really didn’t have the full picture yet, but we had a pretty clear idea of where we were going with it.
So we got started.

image

It was the same when I made the decision to give our marriage a second chance. I wasn’t completely sure it would work. I wasn’t completely convinced we had the ability to do it. But I had seen enough pieces to know what it could possibly look like. And the only way to find out, the only way to see the completed vision, was to take that first step and just get started.

The first thing I picked out was the back splash.

 
Cararra marble subway tiles. You guys. 😍 Absolutely gorgeous. I knew from the moment I saw them that it was exactly what I wanted. I love,  I mean, LOVE this tile.
It was the first thing I picked out but it was also the finishing touch. The thing that pulled everything else together and made it work.

As for our marriage, I think the backsplash represents commitment. True unwavering commitment. Without it, some of the pieces might still function ok, but others just won’t work at all, and the renovation will just never appear complete. Both spouses have to be fully 100% committed to making it work. Otherwise you end up in a perpetual state of patching things up. A perpetual state of unfinished projects. Never finding the reward of seeing the beauty of this new thing you are building to completion. You can’t rebuild something with only 50% of the supplies, or 50% of the labor. If 50% is all you’ve got, the job will either never get finished or it will fall apart. You both have to commit to going all in.

Next came the paint.


Have y’all ever tried to choose a grey paint? Who knew there were sooo many different greys?! Literally drove myself and my family nuts trying to make a decision.
Walls and trim. Then the cabinets and all the handles. Before you even get started you have to take all the stuff out of the cabinets. Which leaves a nice big mess on the dining room floor.

So much work. Before you start you think, “this won’t be so bad. It’s not that big of a job.”
But after just a few hours in you find yourself exhausted. Frustrated. Downright weary.
“What was I thinking? Why did I think I could do this? How many screws are in these darn hinges and drawer pulls? I knew this was going to be hard work but I didn’t think about all these tedious details. This. Is. Hard.”
But you do it anyway. You keep going forward. And when you finish the painting and rehang the doors, you are amazed at what a difference all that hard work made. And when you refill those cabinets, you throw out the junk and the trash that you don’t need and only put back what is useful.

And that’s what it is like. The healing process. The process of forgiveness.
You know it’s going to be hard. But then you get in there and you realize that
You. Had. No. Idea.
No idea what you were getting yourself into.
No idea the tedious details you would have to work through. No idea the junk and the trash that it would expose.
No idea the strength, the determination and the sheer will it would take to push through it. But that is what it takes. You just have to make the decision to do it, then you roll up those sleeves and you get to work. And you don’t quit. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’re tired. Even when you aren’t feeling 100% sure it’s going to turn out the way you want it to. You just do it.

After that we replaced the flooring.


That required pulling up the old floor, laying down a new subfloor then tiling over that.
That’s when we hit a bit of a snag.
Jeff spent hours laying that tile, but after it dried they started popping up.
It was disastrous. How did this happen?
So we had to backtrack and try and figure out why it wasn’t working. Turns out, when we bought the bag of mortar to lay it with, we failed to notice that the label said not for use with porcelain. So we had to pull EVERY last tile up. Scrape the mortar off the back of every tile. Scrape the mortar off of the subfloor. And start all over. This time using the right materials.

Sometimes, as we are working through rebuilding our marriage, we screw it up. We do things or say things or let the wrong thoughts take precedence in our minds, and we try to lay the foundation down based on the wrong things. And when that happens, we quickly see that the floor starts cracking and we are on unsteady ground. Many times over we’ve had to tear that foundation up again. We’ve had to look back and see where we went wrong, what materials we used that didn’t belong and re install it with the right materials. A solid foundation is crucial. And sometimes it takes time to find all the right ingredients. But once it’s done right, you’ve got a firm foundation to build on. A solid place to land. Steady ground to stand on.

Next we bought a new stove top and vent hood. Jeff found it on Craigslist. I must say I am not a fan of Craigslist and was slightly terrified. But thankfully, not everyone selling on Craigslist is out to murder people and there are great deals to be had. Good to know! As we prepared to install it, I realized that the countertops that we had just were not working with the new aesthetic. Which was a bit disheartening because we had not budgeted for new countertops. The only way we were even able to do what we had done so far was based on an extremely low budget, buying materials at the lowest possible price we could find and doing ALL the work ourselves. But, it was clear that for us to achieve what we were going for, those countertops had to go.

Miracle of miracles, Jeff talked to a former employer. A cabinet maker that he worked for when we first got married. When asking about the price of new countertops, this sweet man told Jeff that he couldn’t be prouder of how he had worked hard and made something of himself, of the man he had become since he worked for him all those years ago. And then he proceeded to make him a deal on those countertops that was better than we ever could have hoped for.
God is so so good.


Countertops are a place of serving. They are also a place of presentation. The way we served each other, the way we presented ourselves to each other in our old marriage. Those things just didn’t work in this new one. We had to learn new ways of showing love. If you haven’t read the five love languages by Gary Chapman. Go get it. Read it. Read it now. Don’t wait. It will be life changing.

After that we moved on to the dining room. I hung new curtains. They provide just a bit of shade, while still letting the light in. And bring a little warmth to the room.


I guess in our marriage maybe that represents new boundaries and also new transparency and the protection and security that both of those things bring.

I refinished our dining room table. It was painted black before. Dark and uninviting. I painted it with a very pale grey chalk paint, then distressed it, and topped it off with several potted succulents. Then we replaced the light fixture hanging above it.
It’s inviting, and the plants give it a little pop of life.
Exactly the way I want my family.
Inviting, and full of life.


The painting on the wall no longer matched, so I replaced it with this. Yes, it’s a cow. And I LOVE it. It’s exactly what I wanted. Full of color and just a touch of whimsy.


In our marriage I suppose that would represent the fun. The adventure of getting to know the new people we are becoming. The unexpected blessings. The joy.


The stairs still need to be redone and the oven and kitchen light fixture still need to be replaced. There is still some work to do in our kitchen and in our marriage before it reaches completion. But with time and the right resources, we know it’s going to be better than we even imagined. We know this because we can already see it coming together. And it already is better than we could have imagined. So how wonderful it is to know we haven’t seen anything yet. There’s still so much goodness ahead.

Most recently, I added this to our shelf.

And that is the key.
The key to everything.
It’s the reason it’s working.
Because we are so, so grateful.
We know how different our lives could be today. How different they should be by the world’s standards after what happened in our marriage.
But instead we have this.
And yes it’s so incredibly hard.
Yes, it’s so incredibly messy.
But it’s also incredibly beautiful.
And nothing short of miraculous. And we are grateful.

Amy Thurston Gordy

The sum of Joy

At the first church service of the year, our pastor passed out little slips of paper. He asked us to write down one word for the new year. One word that represented what we were asking God for. One word that represented what we wanted to have or learn or do or become in the new year.
At that point in time, we were in a very, very early stage of trying to put our broken marriage, and our broken selves, back together.

Jeff had only been back home a matter of weeks, and there were still more hard days than good days at that point.
As I sat and thought about what my word would be, there were just so many. The last year had brought me such terrible, awful words.

Pain.

Heartache.

Anxiety.

Sadness.

Insecurity.

Confusion.

Doubt.

Fear.

Anger.

Hate.
It was so hard to narrow down what I wanted this new year to be. I wanted it to be the exact opposite of all those awful words that 2015 had brought me.
I wanted happiness.

A mended heart.

Peace.

Clarity.

Security.

Stability.

Love.
But the one thing, the one thing I wanted most, was,

Joy.
I just wanted to feel joy.

I craved it with every ounce of my being. The sadness was just so overwhelmingly heavy and I just desperately wanted to feel the lightness that joy brings.
So that was the word I wrote down that day.

Now we have reached the middle of 2016, and our pastor revisited that sermon today.
On the curtain behind the pulpit at our church, hang large letters that spell the word “[be]ing.”

It represents Acts 17:28,

“In Him we live and move and have our being.”

It is a reminder that we aren’t just of Him, we are in Him and He in us and so we aren’t here to just talk about His mercy, His grace, and His love, but we are here to BE those things.
So today, instead of writing our words on a slip of paper, they took those big letters off the wall. And we all wrote our words on those letters.

It could be the same word you wrote at the beginning of the year, or you could choose to write a new one.

I kept hearing two words go through my mind.
The first word was:

Goodness

From the first days after I discovered the affair, when I was so entrenched in the pain of all that had happened, God kept telling me He had goodness for me. That no matter what happened, there was goodness waiting for me on the other side of this.
Throughout this past year, I’ve held tight to that. And not just as a promise for the future, but as something to get me through each and every day.

When things got bad, I’d remind myself to look for the goodness. And that’s what would pull me through. Sometimes it was little things, sometimes it was big things, but there was always goodness there, even in the darkest days. You just have to look for it. You have to acknowledge it, you have to be thankful for it, and then keep your focus on it.

It’s not always easy, and there were some days that have been harder than others for me to carry out this principle for sure. But if you focus on everything that’s going wrong, and everything that’s bad, you just end up with more bad. On the flip side of that, if you look for the goodness, the goodness grows.

Even when our lives aren’t going the way we wanted or expected, God is still so very good. He has so much goodness for us. We just have to choose to see it.
I see it everywhere, and I’m so very thankful. His goodness overwhelms me. And once we see His goodness, we can then turn around and BE His goodness for someone else. And so it grows, and it grows. His goodness knows no end.

Which brings me to my second word:

Expectation

Hope is a wonderful thing. It gets us through many heartaches and trials.
But I have found that I don’t just have to hope that everything will work out for my good.

I can fully expect it.

Because of God’s goodness.

Because He promises in His word that He will work ALL things for my good.

That He will take even what was meant for my harm and turn it around.

And that not only will He turn it around, but He won’t waste one single bit of it. He will bring His goodness and light into my situation and use it for His glory. He will put my broken pieces back together and then use that brokenness to bring hope and goodness to others.
I don’t have to just hope for the best.

I can come before God with expectation of the best.

Because that is what He promises. I can trust that He always has my best interest in mind and that He always has more goodness in store for me.

Psalm 31:19

“How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”

So then, what about my original word, Joy?
I can sum it up this way:
Goodness+Expectation Β  Β  Β  multiplied by Gratitude=

JOY
That’s where we can find our joy. When we look for the goodness. When we trust in God’s promises and fully expect that He is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, and when our hearts overflow with gratitude for His goodness and grace and His infinite love for us.
That’s when He turns all those bad words the last year brought me around.
That’s where I’ll find my happiness.

My mended heart.

Peace.

Clarity.

Security.

Stability.

Love.

That’s where I’ll find my joy.

It’s where you can find yours too.❀️

 

Amy Thurston Gordy

Handing out Hope

Overall I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. Feeling hopeful. Expectant of good things. 

The past few weeks have gone pretty well. A few small triggers maybe, but not really any major ones. Going more than a week or two without any substantial triggers is a pretty big deal. The closest I came to it was when someone sent me pics of their day, not knowing that the location where they had taken those pics was one of “THE” places. And I will admit it bothered me. It triggered the bad thoughts. That heaviness dropped in on me the way it does. Like a lead blanket thrown over you in a dark murky lake, slowly pushing you under water and taking your breath from you. But I got control of it pretty quickly. The lead blanket was a little more like a thick cotton quilt this time. Still heavy, but slightly easier to push off. I’m not sure if the lead blanket is getting lighter, or if I’m just getting stronger. In any case, the effects were a little less than before. That’s progress. Slow moving… possibly…probably. 

But I’ll take it. 

Things were going well. We had a nice weekend at the lake with family. I even got myself a fishing license. Anyone who truly knows me recognizes the humor in that statement. Not a single one of ya ever thought you’d see the day that Amy Gordy wanted to go fishing. Or see me wearing a cap. I mean, I don’t even recognize myself. 
  
And lo and behold, I actually caught some fish. 

Teeny, tiny fish. 

Like really, really tiny. 

I mean, so very small, basically we could almost call it a goldfish.

But hey, a fish is a fish so it counts, right?  πŸ˜‰

We took our daughter and a friend to a Braves game. We ate hot dogs, fries, popcorn and Dippin Dots ice cream and even made an appearance on the Jumbotron not just once, but twice. I mean, lots of people end up on the Jumbotron at some point, but twice??!! That’s basically unheard of. I mean, obviously the cameras just love us, right?

( this is where y’all roll your eyes at each other and then turn to me and smile and agree that obviously, indeed the cameras do love us.)

Ha. I kid. I actually don’t go to a lot of games so I really don’t know if that’s true. It may not be uncommon at all. What do I know? But it’s more fun to think that it is so I’m going with it. 

We are Braves Jumbotron famous. Yep. I’m going with that. It’s kind of like being YouTube famous, except for the fact that it’s nothing like that at all. πŸ˜‚

  
And somewhere in between all that goodness over the last few weeks, we had two big blow ups. I’m talking airplane taking a nose dive, car going over a cliff, train derailment type of arguments. 

It happens with a comment taken out of context, or maybe it starts out with just a conversation. Nothing really serious. Just a couple of questions. A couple of answers. And we are ok. 

But then the tone changes. The response changes. And suddenly we are no longer having a conversation. It’s a fight. A full fledged fight. 

The kind that seem to come out of nowhere and you’re not really sure what exactly caused this train to derail and send you careening off track. The kind that suddenly makes you wonder if you can really do this. The kind that suddenly makes you wonder if your marriage really can survive this. The kind that suddenly makes you wonder if he will continue to be able to handle dealing with your healing process and not eventually want to walk away. The kind that makes you question everything and stirs up your deepest fears. 

And the million dollar question, the one that drives all that fear the most: “Am I just going to end up hurt again? Will we have gone through all of this for nothing except more heartache and disappointment?” 

Responding to each other from a place of stress or frustration or fear instead of a place of empathy and love is what brings about these kind of arguments, and suddenly we find ourselves thrown into this place filled with doubt and fear. 
A WHOLE lot of fear.  

 And so I look at Jeff and I say, “WHAT is even happening right now? We were doing so well. Why are we suddenly doubting everything? How did we get back here?”

And with that, something clicks and we can both see that the conversation wasn’t heading anywhere good with this current trajectory. 
And so we calm down. We talk it through. We acknowledge that although we have progressed a lot in our healing, we definitely still have a good way to go. This isn’t an overnight thing. Trust takes a long time to restore. Scars take a long time to fade. 

Sometimes it’s hard to be patient.

Sometimes we forget how to communicate properly. Or sometimes, as I think happened with us this time, we are simply just tired, a little overworked, not getting enough sleep, maybe a little stressed out, and when you are feeling the effects of that, it’s easy to respond in a not so thoughtful fashion. You don’t process your thoughts correctly when you’re tired. Your sensitivity is heightened. Your perceptions are skewed. 

After clearing our heads, we were able to see where the breakdowns happened, and acknowledge them and apologize for both of our parts in that. And just like that, the fight is over, peace is restored, and we are back on track. 

We’re getting better at this. 

Then, yesterday morning, something strange happened. Well, I guess it’s not really so strange. God seems to speak to me this way a lot over the past year. 
I recently became part of a launch team, to help promote Cindy Beall’s new book. Within that group, we post messages to each other, and Cindy posts something each day for us to pray specifically about. Cindy’s message to us that day was about praying for each other as we promote this book and it’s message. The enemy doesn’t like seeing marriages restored. He doesn’t like seeing our messages of hope and healing spread to others. He would want to attack our marriages to try and kill our hope. To try and stop us from helping others find healing and restoration. So she encouraged us to pray protection over each other and our marriages. 

Our recent arguments immediately came to my mind. The ones that seemingly came out of nowhere. And then I realized that they didn’t come out of nowhere. 
Doubt and fear are not of God. 

Nope. Those things are the darts of the enemy. 

Ephesians 6:12 says:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

And in that moment I understood that during those fights that we had, we weren’t truly fighting with each other. We were in a fight with a common enemy. One that seeks to steal, kill and destroy. One that wants to rob us of our joy. 
After reading that message, I got in the car to run an errand. And a verse popped into my head. 
The one that says ” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

And I immediately smiled, thinking how God always brings to mind exactly what I need in these moments. Out of the blue. And I couldn’t even remember where in the Bible this verse was. 

I started the car, and turned my radio to the Christian music station. During commercial breaks, this station sometimes plays short 1-2 minute uplifting messages from a local pastor. One of these came on at this exact moment, and the first words he said were: 

“Romans 8:37 says : No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”

Yep. The exact same verse that had popped into my mind just moments before. And now I know what book it’s from too. Thanks for that Pastor Benny. πŸ‘πŸ»
I love when God gives us a word, and then follows it up with such a precise confirmation. 
God’s message to me was crystal clear today:
We’ve got this. 
Overwhelming victory is ours. 

All of that doubt and all of that fear, all of that IS A LIE. 

He has equipped us with everything we need. 

We’ve got this. 

Because we’ve got Him. 

So attention all doubt and fear, you don’t win this round. 

Hope is alive and well. And I intend to keep spreading it around. I’ll be like Oprah, but with hope instead of cars. “You get some hope, and you get some hope, and you get some hope. Everyyyyybody gets some hope!!!” 

πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

Amy Thurston Gordy 

The Bigger Picture

I’m beginning to see it, the bigger picture. The bigger picture, in the every day, in the little moments, it’s something we cannot see.

In the moments of pain, of sorrow, of grief. In the moments of disappointment, we just can’t see it. We can’t understand why. We can’t possibly understand what purpose this incredible pain could have. And as I did, so often we find ourselves asking those seemingly unanswerable questions. The ones I’ve written about so much in my blogs. The ones I’ve found myself searching, desperate for the answers to. 

The questions of why. 

Why did this happen to me? 

And so often we find ourselves not only feeling heartbroken that God didn’t stop it, but angry. Angry that he allowed this thing we didn’t feel we deserved to happen to us. Angry that he didn’t use His almighty power to save us from this misery. And questioning why He didn’t love us enough to spare us this heartache. 
His answer to that question is that He couldn’t possibly love us more. His love for us is infinite and pure. But just because He loves us doesn’t mean He will always step in. 

Could he? Yes. He most definitely could. 

But does He always choose to? No. 

And we want to understand why. 
I’ve asked all of those questions. And for a long time I’ve believed that they don’t have an answer. But over the past few weeks I’ve come to realize that they do. 

The answer is the bigger picture. The one we can’t see. 

But He sees it. 
Jeremiah 29:11 says that He knows the plans He has for me, and that they are for good. 
The reason why He allowed life as I know it to be destroyed, the reason He allowed my heart to be shattered, is because He could see the bigger picture. He could see that the pain of that tearing down would allow something better to be built up in its place. He could see that by the testimony of our story, countless others would find hope and healing, and that they would see Him. 
Someone told me many years ago that God told them to tell me to read the story of Joseph. That I should read it because God saw me as he saw him, and our lives were very similar. I was intrigued, because what I remembered of Joseph didn’t stand out as anything I saw mirrored in my life at the time. 
So I read about Joseph. I read of how he was highly favored. I read of how he was mistreated, and how he was betrayed by the very people that were supposed to love him the most. The people he should have been able to trust. And I read of his forgiveness for those people. And how God took everything that was meant for his harm to bring blessings to his life. To put him in places he never dreamed he would be. To put him in a position to help others. 

I read all of that and… 

I. did. not. understand. 

I thought surely this person was mistaken. 

I was NOT AT ALL like Joseph. 

No one I loved had hurt me. I couldn’t imagine that anyone I loved would ever betray me the way he was betrayed. No one would toss me in a pit and then make me a slave, throwing away my very sense of self, everything that made me who I am. That kind of thing doesn’t happen to me. There must be some mistake, I thought. That message wasn’t for me. 

And so for all these years, I’d had that tucked away. Certain it had nothing to do with me. 
The story of Joseph has come back up in my mind on several occasions lately. Most recently in Cindy Beall’s new book. 

(Y’all should get that, by the way. “Rebuilding a marriage better than new”. You can order it on AmazonπŸ˜„)

I know it was not by mistake that she included this story, I know that it was confirmation of what God has been speaking to me over the past few weeks. She wrote about the story of Joseph and how loved he was by God. She wrote about how God did not intervene and allowed all of the terrible things to happen to him. And she wrote about how God redeemed Joseph’s story. How He freed him from slavery and put him in a position of influence that he never would have imagined. How everything bad that happened was used for the good of Joseph, his family, and so many others. She wrote about how if Joseph had not gone through all those painful things, he would never have ended up in the position that he did, where he was able to bring so much goodness to so many. 
And now I see it. That story, Joseph’s story, it was not a mistake. It WAS meant for me. 
Jeff betrayed me. And I found myself in a virtual pit. A pit filled with despair, sadness, anger, self doubt, and fear. 

What he did made me a slave. A slave to anxiety, fear, depression, post traumatic triggers, sadness, insecurity, uncertainty and doubt. 

And it all seemed so wrong. So incredibly unfair. 
But just as God allowed these things to happen to Joseph, he allowed bad things to happen to me. Not because He didn’t love me. Not because He didn’t want to spare me the heartache. His heart ached too. And just as He was with Joseph, He never left me. He saw me through that heartache. He cried with me in that pit. And just as He did with Joseph, he’s used this awful experience to bring goodness to my life. To bring goodness to my marriage. And He is using my story to help others. So that others can see His goodness and His faithfulness and His love. So that others can see how He makes all things new. 
Joseph had a choice. He could choose to let his situation take the very best of him. He could choose to be defeated. He could choose to drown in the misery of the sea of “why me’s?”. 

Or he could choose to trust that there was a bigger picture. He could choose to trust that he would see the goodness of God. That the goodness of God would find him, even there, in that pit of despair. 

Joseph chose to believe God had his best interest in mind, he chose to believe in the bigger picture. 

I’m choosing to believe there is a bigger picture for me too. 
There is a purpose in my pain. God will not waste a single one of my tears. He is redeeming my story, and He will redeem yours too. Yours may look different than mine, but in His way, in the way He knows will be the best for you and the good of others, you can count on the fact that it will be redeemed. 
We may not understand it, and we may not see it yet, but He sees it. 

The bigger picture. 

And it’s so much bigger than our minds can even fathom. 
His love for us is endless. His mercy and grace for us is matchless. 
We can’t be assured that we aren’t going to have pain and heartache in our lives. But we can be sure that He knows the bigger picture. He knows the plans He has for us. And they are always, always good. 

We can trust Him. 

This revelation has brought me so much peace. I hope it brings you some peace too. ❀️
Amy Thurston Gordy

And they lived happily ever,after

I thought I didn’t get the fairy tale love story that I had wished for.
Turns out, maybe I actually did.

Things are going well with us. As far as marriage goes, I feel like we are getting it right for once. Being attentive. Thoughtful. Present. Communicating well. There’s a sweetness about it that wasn’t there before.

Before.

It’s wedding season. It seems everyday I see news of engagements or wedding pictures. Posts that say “I finally found my happily ever after.”
I find myself looking at those announcements, and wondering what’s ahead for them. Will they be happy? Will one of them eventually betray the other? I look at their faces. Full of joy. Of hope. Of love. Our faces looked like that once.
In our “before”.

image

It’s so rare. A marriage that stands the test of time. A marriage that holds true, til death do us part, unblemished by infidelity. Unmarked by betrayal.
My heart sinks at the thought of it.

I wanted that. I wanted to grow old together. Knowing that I had been his one and only love since the day we took those vows for all of our years. We all want that. Unfortunately we don’t always get what we want.

I look at those people, starting their lives together and I pray that God grants them that. I pray they treasure each other. I pray they never have to experience the pain of betrayal.
Happily ever after.

Or should that be happily ever, after. That comma. It changes everything.

After the betrayal. After the pain. After the heartache. After the devastation.

I’ve never really thought about that saying in quite that way before. The fairy tales always end with it. “And they lived happily ever after”.
We say we want the fairy tale love. In our minds we think of it as always happy, always good. A constant and forever love.
But in every one of those fairy tales, the couple goes through something traumatic.
Adversity, betrayal, loss, grief. It is only when they find their way through it that they get their “happily ever after.”

It comes after.

Be careful what you wish for.
I thought I didn’t get the fairy tale love story that I had wished for.
Turns out, maybe I actually did.

So from now on, when I see pics of young love, looking for their happily ever after, I hope they find their happily ever.

Just ever.

I hope they don’t need the after.
And then I thank God for His goodness. I thank God that there can still be happily.
Even in the after.

image

 

Amy Thurston Gordy

I told the God of the Universe that I was mad at Him

I’ve just been struggling internally these past few days. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, depression maybe? I wasn’t sure. It’s not that I’m unhappy. There’s a lot of good in my life. How is it that a person can feel not unhappy, yet so very sad all at once?

As I was praying about it and trying to work through it and break through this sadness I was feeling, I came to the realization of something. Something that I’ve known but have pushed back.
Not acknowledged.
It was just too painful to acknowledge.
And ugly.
And terrifying to say out loud.

I’m struggling to even write it.

I was still angry.
Angry at what Jeff did. Angry at what she did.
But the thing I’ve been avoiding. Denying.
Pushing down to the most inner depths of myself so that it doesn’t see the light of day,
is that,
they aren’t the only ones I’ve been angry at.

As I still do, I prayed a lot in my old life. I prayed specific prayers.
“God, please free Jeff of his addiction so that He can be the person you made him to be.”
“God, please don’t let his addiction lead him to have an affair, and if he ever finds himself in that situation, do something to stop it. Don’t allow him to cross that line. Protect our marriage and our family.”

The movie “The War Room” is very popular right now. It inspires many to pray more intentionally and specifically for their families and their marriages. And I think that’s wonderful. But I also find it hard to watch. Because it’s a little too close to home. And because the wife in that movie prays those prayers. The very same ones I prayed.
And in the movie, (spoiler alert) when the husband is about to partake in an affair, God stops him. At the moment that he was about to go off with the other woman, he gets struck with a bout of terrible food poisoning, and is unable to go through with it.
It’s just a movie. But it strikes a chord in the deepest parts of me. Where I’d like to keep these thoughts hidden.

God didn’t stop Jeff.

I was faithful to Jeff.
And I was faithful to God.

And I felt betrayed by them both.

I felt betrayed by them BOTH.

I almost can’t breathe just typing the words.

No, I wasn’t just angry with Jeff or the other woman. I’ve been angry at God.

He could have stepped in. He could have smacked Jeff in the head and given him a divine revelation without having to go through all of this. He could have made his phone malfunction so he didn’t get her messages. He could have kept him from taking that stupid job in the first place. He could have hit him with such conviction as he walked to her car and turned him around and sent him home to me.
He could have given them food poisoning.
Anything.
He could have intervened. Because He’s God.

But He didn’t.

And I get it. I get that He knew that Jeff had to fall. He knew that was what it would take for him to become the person he was meant to be.

But what about me? Who was looking out for me? What about what this would do to me? Did I not matter?

We’ve all heard people say, “We have God looking out for us, protecting us from any harm that might come to us”. I’ve said it myself on many occasions.
But since all of this happened, when I would hear someone say that, sometimes I would think:
“but He didn’t protect me from this. He didn’t keep this from happening to me. God why did you not protect me from this?”

So God and I had a come to Jesus meeting last night. And I admitted it. All of it. And it was a scary thing to do.
Because He’s God.
And who am I to be mad at God? But there in the shower, I poured it all out.

And ever so softly, ever so tenderly, He reminded me who He is.

You’ve heard the saying, “when God closes one door, He opens another one”.
I believe that the truth is, that there are no closed doors. All the doors are open. Some of them lead to good things, and some of them hold all the things that are the very worst for us.
Now pay attention because I might just blow your mind with this next statement.

God’s not up there opening or closing any doors.
The doors are simply there.

And WE choose which to walk through and which not to.
He simply walks with us, no matter which door we choose.
Does He sometimes protect us from bodily harm, such as keeping us from an accident? Yes, I believe in those cases He sometimes does intervene. But when it comes to matters of the heart and of the soul, and whether or not we close those doors or walk through them,
the choices are always left to us.

God didn’t intervene.
He didn’t stop Jeff from making the choices to do the horrible things he did. He didn’t stop him from stepping through that door. Because that’s not who He is.
It’s not because God didn’t love me. It’s not because He didn’t want to spare me that pain.
It’s because He doesn’t force himself on anyone.
It’s because Jeff had to choose.
And I wasn’t the only one that was heartbroken. God was heartbroken too.

And He never turned away from me. He reminded me of the way He spoke to me, before I knew the truth. The way He clearly let my spirit know that all was not well. The way I answered that nudging by pleading with Him to show me what I was missing. To show me what I couldn’t see. He reminded me of his gentle whisper the next morning of what I would later learn was Luke 8:17, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open”. He reminded me how He spoke that to me all day long. I didn’t know what it meant. Was that a scripture? Had I read that before? I wasn’t sure. But I heard Him speak it to me over and over, until I started repeating it aloud in the car that afternoon. And I said ” I don’t know why I’m hearing this. But I know it’s you. So let it be so. I know there’s more going on with him than I know. Reveal whatever this is that is hidden.”
A few days later, that’s exactly what came to pass. I picked up Jeff’s phone and what popped up on his screen at that very moment was all that had been hidden from me for all those months.

And then God reminded me how He was there. Through every excruciating second of it. He never left my side, and I remembered the sweetness of His presence in the midst of all that pain.

He never promised that bad things wouldn’t happen to us. He never promised that life would treat us fairly.

But He is who He says He is.

And He says that He will turn what is meant for our harm into good.
He says that He is always with us.
He says that when we hurt, He hurts.
He says that He’s my loving Father, and I’m his precious jewel.
Even when I’m angry at Him. Even when I don’t understand.

I told the God of the Universe that I was mad at Him.

And He responded with compassion, and with grace, and with the comfort that only He can give.

He loves me.

He LOVES me.

Oh how He loves me.

And I’m not angry at Him anymore.

Amy Thurston Gordy