Something happened yesterday morning that I've talked a lot about since, mostly because it was bizarre and more than a little bit funny.
Our church was having its Easter children's event, and I had volunteered to help out. My mom's puppet ministry was set to perform, and I was to meet them at the church at about 9 a.m. to help them get set up. The only thing I had left to do before leaving my house was find a quick bite to eat and take some medication, but I noticed earlier when I let Waylon out to pee that my neighbors had tossed a beer can and four donuts over the fence into my yard. An unusual combination, yes, but I long ago gave up on trying to figure people out so I went out to pick them up.
No big deal, right? Well, it wasn't a big deal until I tried to get back inside the house. Somehow, my sliding glass door had locked itself from the inside. And yes, I say locked itself because it would have been impossible for me to lock it myself, and you have to pull up on the handle to lock it, and Waylon isn't strong enough nor possesses the thumbs necessary to make it latch.
So I was stuck. And not only was I locked out of the house, but also locked IN the backyard. My fence is taller than I am, and the one gate I could have opened has a lock smack dab in the middle on the outer side, which I couldn't reach. The only things in the backyard available to me were a plastic tote left by the previous owners that was full of topsoil, and a bag of sand. And even when I piled them up, I still wasn't up high enough to lean over the fence and reach that lock.
The only thing left to do was climb over. I wish you could have seen it -- my rear end perched precariously on top of a row of inch-wide wooden slats (picture an orange shoved down onto the top end of a straw), counting to three and praying for a soft landing.
In the end, one of the guys from the puppet team came and was able to get the first-floor bathroom window open. First order of business? Hiding keys and making sure my friend who lives two doors down also has a copy.
I've never been one to shy away from telling embarrassing stories about myself, so it's been fun relaying to friends how my weekend kicked off in an unusual manner. But the more I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't just a humorous "thing" or situation that just happened to occur -- I think it's actually a metaphor for something much deeper that's been going on in my life, and something that God is trying to show me.
It's been a rough week. I haven't written much about my divorce, mostly because that's just not the type of dirty laundry you want to air on the Internet. People get divorced, it happens all the time, blah blah blah, right? Well this is the first time it's happened to me, and although I really am fine and doing quite well, ignoring it and not talking about it here haven't made the pain go away. As I was reminded a few days ago, grief is a process and there are going to be obstacles that pop up unexpectedly, even if the marriage ended seemingly with no strings attached.
That just isn't true. When it comes to matters of the heart, there are always strings attached, and it turns out that a few of my strings are still in knots.
My marriage had many issues, and to be honest I'm surprised now, looking back, that the relationship lasted as long as it did. I am in no way saying that I'm innocent or perfect, because the Lord and everyone else knows I'm not. I struggled with so much, and said and did some ugly things borne out of hurt, anger and jealousy. Things that caused deep wounds for those that I loved very much. I am not proud of those moments, and I will carry the regret for many of them for the rest of my life.
What I can say is that I was 100 percent faithful and loyal to my husband, but unfortunately those were not qualities that were shown toward me. Even more painful is the fact that the person -- the "other woman", if you will -- is someone to whom I had shown friendship and support. She and I did not know each other well, as the two of them knew each other through work, but I had always thought well of her until the night I discovered them in a bar together, and then later in the home I had shared with my husband and stepson. The home that, as all present evidence shows, the three of them now share together. I found that last part out this week, and if you guessed that it felt like a dagger to the heart, you'd be correct.
I won't get into all the craziness that happened during my separation. The lies, manipulation, anonymous texts and mind games that went on would make your head spin. I spent a year of my life in these conditions, wanting so badly for it all to just go away -- for God to heal both our hearts and ultimately heal our marriage. That was my prayer -- a fervent prayer -- every. single. day.
It wasn't to be. After a few more months of insanity, the divorce was in process and became final on Dec. 28. And really? I've been all right. I'm happier than I've been in years. I'm setting and achieving goals, work has been great, and God has brought so many blessings and awesome people into my life that they'd be impossible to count. My life is more full than it's EVER been, and as is so often the case, it took something awful happening in order for me to realize that, although there were good times, things could be so much better.
I've been feeling down this week after realizing that I'd been replaced in both heart and home, and have spent more time and energy ruminating on that than I care to admit. I've gone through all five stages of grief this week -- heck, sometimes I went through them all several times an hour. I was just so angry and hurt, and couldn't figure out what I had done to deserve it. I wondered why the two people who had caused me so much pain were being allowed to move on together, to enjoy what I'd worked so hard for, while I was left picking up the pieces. It just wasn't fair, you know?
I guess I was kind of acting like the Jews Moses led out of Egypt. God had pledged deliverance to the Promised Land, but as they wandered in the desert they began to long for the days spent as slaves under Pharoah's control. Because as awful as things had been in Egypt, at least they knew their place and their days were predictable. They had food, and water. They knew what to expect.
There's no way way that I'd ever go back, nor do I want that. I feel hurt and angry sometimes, sure, but I don't hold any bitterness or regret. There just isn't any room in my life for that junk. I guess this week I was just feeling a bit jealous that I'm the one currently going at it alone. It gets a bit lonely sometimes, as you can imagine. But my mom said something so profound to me this week as I was complaining about this that I've been chewing on her words for several days. "Jennifer," she said. "God rescued you from that situation. He knew that it wasn't the life you deserved, and He. Got. You. Out."
Hillbilly Heloise is freakin' smart, y'all.
It felt like she had reached through the phone and smacked me upside the head. There I was, pining for the past despite how hard and dysfunctional it had been, wondering why I was the lonely one and when/if God really would follow through on his promises to me, the promises of his word.
It's not a good idea to doubt God on his promises, guys. Because if you do, he'll lock you in your backyard.
Here's where that metaphor comes into play. Yesterday morning I was caught between two places -- neither in nor out. And neither one of them was where I was supposed to be. Just like my heart over the last few days. The only option now is to climb over the fence.
It's going to take some time, and some more work. I know that. And I fully expect something else to pop up just when I think I'm doing really well and can set my controls to auto-pilot. That's just life. What I can do, though, is rest on the promise that a new day is coming and it's going to be better than I could ever imagine. Will it be a new love? Who knows. I don't really know what is in store, but I know without a doubt that God loves me and that he rescues me over and over again. One of the scriptures that I clung to during all of this is one my pastor shared with me as I was trying to figure out what to do about the end of my marriage. It's Psalm 18:19 and says "He brought me out to a spacious place. He rescued me, because he delights in me."