Sometimes it’s just best to tell your story before your story gets told. In all I’ve endured God has been GOOD! I hope this helps someone know that no lesson in life is wasted.
Sometimes it’s just best to tell your story before your story gets told. In all I’ve endured God has been GOOD! I hope this helps someone know that no lesson in life is wasted.
December 30, 2016 is a day I’ll never forget. It’s the day I said “I Do” to my best friend, my answered prayer and prayer partner wrapped up in one, my laughing buddy, my vision stretcher, my comfort-zone challenger, my cheerleader who needs no pom-poms, my personal couch pillow, my fellow foodie (whether he admits it or not), my proper “do over”, my own private kitchen and car dancer, my defender, my dude from way back in the days of Big Pun and Bun B, and my resuscitated heart’s cause for celebration and acceleration.
Having both been married to others before, and with weddings far too big in hindsight, we opted to go “less” is more for this marriage. I specifically remember the pain of the lingering expenses which can come from a large wedding, and we both are undergoing financial reconstruction (do it Jesus!) so we decided the less we spent the more special the wedding would have to be. With thoughts of the marriage taking top billing to the wedding, in early October of 2016 we decided to get married soon. Fast-forward to November 1, 2016 and I awaken from major surgery feeling really “lovely” from my heavy meds and not so “lovely” from major pain to hear excitement in my mama’s voice as she said, “Aquil asked your daddy if he could marry you. He said yes!!!! I’m so excited!” With blessings from our parents we set in motion a plan which morphed into one of the most wonderful days in my life.
Thoughts of the living room, backyard, Courtyard (our favorite spot for hot wings) or courthouse had been tossed around for this simple ceremony. Now, let me be truthfully shallow. I was on a budget. True. But I must have a little bling even in on a budget and none of those first options defined the miracle from a MESS which transpired over the course of 19 years to get us to this point. So with a little praying and a lot of planning we chose to host our wedding at Grille 29, one of my favorite restaurants. The prices were amazing. The food is amazing. The location is amazing. The staff is amazing and again the prices were amazing when compared to the $25,000 spent the first go ground way back in the early 2000s. Yet still, something was missing.
What was missing was the element of surprise. Literally. The wedding needed to be a surprise. I don’t prefer surprises, but boy, oh boy, do I love surprising. So the idea of keeping the wedding a surprise for our guests shimmied its way into our plans and found itself smack dab at the center of attention. My husband Aquil and I have been through a great deal collectively and individually. But by the grace of God and the wonderful people He surrounded us with we made it through. So we wanted the wedding to be our gift to some of our closest loved ones for them being such a tremendous gift to us. Being that I was in the midst of my 6-8 weeks of surgery recovery with no driving and no working, cringing while walking, sleeping a whole lot and on powerful pain pills, my physical capabilities were limited. Thank sweet Jesus from on high for internet shopping, a great mom, a super secretive sister, a wonderful boo who was as excited as I was and a fake theme of A&A Holiday Soiree to kick the ulimate plan of the sneakiest proportion in motion. How did we do it??? Great question.
Part two is coming soon…
“Nawwwww, girl. I don’t want to pray for him.” Those were the honest and eye-opening words a woman recently uttered concerning her ex-husband. A previously pleasant and light conversation with friends quickly shifted to talk about praying for an ex-spouse and the benefits, not just for the ex, but for the child involved, the person on the praying end of the prayer, the financial obligations remaining and the prayed for person’s overall peace of mind and well-being as a human being.
The back and forward banter, mixed with some hilarious one liners and some purposeful testimonies, continued as we recalled our own experiences with divorce and ultimately getting to the point of sincere and sometimes selfless prayer, which, was NOT/is NOT always an easy journey, at least for me. She explained her pain. We listened then explained God’s plans. She shared her very valid frustrations, mostly financial and time related as it relates to his time with his child. We listened, shared our own frustrations, which can continue years after the ink has dried, and still explained why prayer was the missing link in fixing what our mouths, our anger, our lawyers, and our own devised plots of “get back at ya” can’t do.
Prayer, as simple as it might sound, really does work. What I know is that a working prayer doesn’t always change the situation or the other person. Often it can, but I’d be lying if I said prayer for your ex-spouse will instantly make all things right in your world. What prayer can do is change our perspective, our focus, and our expectations of our ex, and it can up our expectations of God to do what He’s always done, and that’s FAR EXCEED what we think, know or desire any man or woman to do. Prayer will have us looking at and loving our former spouse like a brother or sister in Christ rather than someone who hurt, betrayed or disappointed us. Prayer will shut our mouths and stop our fingers when we want to go off via the world wide web. Prayer will give us peace (and provision) when daycare fees are overdue and we see our ex flossin’ on Facebook in Gucci and Ray Bans. Prayer will allow us to say “pray for your ex, girl” when we know those words would have never, and I mean never, come out of our mouths before. Prayer is our own personal ticket to peace regardless of the actions of others. It gets God’s attention to know that we know who’s really the Man, regardless of the actions of man. Ya dig?
****LPA…Long Post Alert
Let’s just be clear. For many, money is a large part of divorce. It’s about as large a part of divorce as it is the engagement, the marriage and possibly the myriad of reasons which lead to the divorce in the first place.
Six years into this thing called divorce I’ve witnessed firsthand in my life and at a glance through the lives of others in similar situations how the needs, requirements and mandates following divorce can wreak far-reaching havoc on the lives of those who have already experienced havoc in their life at the figurative hands of the divorce. From paying to divorce, while possibly still paying for the wedding, to paying for the divorce when you still wanted to be married, to child support, to shared responsibilities with the children outside of the ordered child support, to joint business and financial obligations, to alimony, and more, again, for many, money is a large part of the divorce. This is especially true when the one with lingering financial obligations to honor the divorce decree fails to oblige and honor.
Let’s just be even more clear, money becomes a more heightened matter when the one with the legally mandated responsibility to provide short-term or long-term support stops it, reduces it or does both while going around flossing in Gucci, Gold or Gators, all the while knowing he or she has not done what he or she is legally and morally supposed to do financially.
If you’re the one on the receiving end hear me clearly. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard and unfair and another blow to whatever you’ve already experienced to have to juggle and finagle, and go without, and explain to children, and borrow from loved ones, and beg creditors, and down-size, work two jobs, and stay up late, and wake up early to try to provide or merely make ends meet while trying to keep your Christianity in tact and a smile on your face. Get rid of blame, anger, bitterness, people in your ear telling you unwise and ungodly things, or punishing the ex-spouse by not allowing him or her a role in the children’s lives when in fact you are punishing the children. I know it’s hard, but keep doing right. In the words of the late, great Whitney Houston, “It’s not right. But it’s okay.” In the words of the even greater Philippians 4:19 from the Bible, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
If you’re the one on the legally and morally mandated giving end hear me clearly. I know it’s probably hard to feel like you’re still connected to something or someone you wanted to be permanently disconnected from and to have to do right by that which, in some way went wrong or you might have been wrong. I know it might seem unfair. I know it might be hard to balance your present life while still honoring the requirements from the past. I know some might feel like you don’t “owe nobody nothing else”, or you’ve already “done enough”, or you’re “tired of this”, or you just want to be “done with this”. I can only imagine what your mind or other influences might be telling you as to the reasons for not doing what you’re required to do. I’m not one to judge. However, the best way to be “done with this” is to do right and see the decree to the end. The best way to not be “tired of this” is to change your perspective on the ex-spouse and whatever hindrances might be overruling your wise decision making regarding him or her. The best way to “do enough” is to do everything you’re supposed to do, especially when children are involved. The best way to “owe nobody nothing else” is to give them what they are owed. The best way to balance the present while honoring the requirements from the past is to handle your business in the order in which it came so that God can bless you with more. I could quote the late, great Johnnie Taylor right now and his perspective on divorce/separation, but I won’t. (Google it if you want seriously catchy tune about divorce/separation in your head.) Instead, I will again go to the Bible and remind you that the same Philippians 4:19 which will work for the one waiting on you to do, will also work for you. Use it! Get rid of blame. Get rid of being angry at yourself for your actions which might have resulted in these decrees. Get rid of being angry at your former spouse for having to still provide. Get rid of people in your ear telling you to dishonor what is required. Get rid of thinking you’re punishing the ex-spouse when you could be punishing the children. Get rid of avoiding responsibilities. Get rid of stubbornness and bitterness and simply do right please ma’am or sir, so that something beautiful can grow for you too from the seeds you’re still planting in the life of someone you once loved.
I don’t know how else to say what I’m about to say without just saying it. Do yourself a favor and don’t date someone right after divorce. Yes, I know they may seem nice. I know they may say it’s their former spouse or almost former spouses fault (that’s a WHOLE ‘nother post about NOT dating people who are separated because separated people are still married and with that comes a bunch of guck and stuff you do not want to deal with. I know.) Anywho, I know this newly “free” male or female may seem to have it all together. I know they may appear to be an answered prayer. I know they may be so caring and kind and fun to hang out with. I even know they may be lonely, and you may be too, but I know that they are NOT ready for a new relationship right out of an old one.
A conversation recently with a counterpart who is dating a man with ink still wet on his divorce decree reminded me of the year and a half I spent in a Church of the Highlands Restoration Small Group for men and women who had experienced divorce and separation. Hearing her gush about how nice he was, how mean the ex-wife was, how they’d known each other for just a little while but bonded so beautifully and how she really wanted to be with someone took me back to that chilly, Autumn Sunday where we discussed dating and marriage after divorce in my small group. It took me back to the moment when the hosts of the small group read the writing on the papers we were discussing and the words about how much time we should take and wait before dating and definitely before marriage rang in my ear like a whistle from an overzealous, courtside referee. I remember shock and awe sitting next to my friend who was going through the same trial. (Hey, girl, hey! Thanks for helping me get through that stage with my lipgloss and high heels on point.) Speaking of lips…I remember “exercising my eyes in the upper part of my head” and sucking my lips like a defeated school girl thinking there was NO WAY IN THE WORLD I was going to wait one year for every two years I was formerly married to get re-married like the wise couple recommended. I had been married nine years so you do the math to see how my mind calculated that to=TOO LONG TO WAIT!
I’m so glad God saw fit to thwart my fast plans. I felt like I deserved a real, and good marriage. And I did/do. I’d gone through the extended small group. I had personal counseling with an amazing Christian counselor. I’d gone to counseling with my former spouse when I was begging him to reconcile. (yep, you read correctly.) I’d prayed. I didn’t have anybody beat anybody up when all of this was unfolding. I didn’t succumb to pressures attempt at depression. I kept eating and in fact, didn’t lose a single pound through the trying ordeal. I didn’t fall out with God, the church or church people. All of this, and you mean to tell me I STILL wasn’t ready regardless of how many times I tried to prove otherwise? I was a hot mess being made better and simply wasn’t ready to come right back out of the gate trying to stroll down the aisle with the first man who spelled my middle name correctly. Neither is anyone else right out of a covenant union stitched, snatched, weaved, orchestrated and ordained by God regardless of what happened to tear it apart. Healing of this nature takes time…lots of time.
So, as I sat and listened to my associate I thought:
In all my wondering regarding her I remembered that I used to wonder why God would dislike divorce so much, and have in place all of these “rules” for the extended restoration process. The truth is, divorce stings like a MOTHER…pinching her child in church after he/she smacked on a Jolly Rancher too loudly. So I wonder no more. I know that He loves us and has a unique process of healing for His children, especially those who have endured this kind of loss. His timing may not seem fair, but God is doing us a favor. There are some messes He simply doesn’t want us messing with. So, with that I will say again…don’t date someone right after divorce.
Peace has always been a friend of mine. I’ve sought it. Chased it down. Pleaded for it and tried my best to hold on to it for dear life, my own of course.
Few things have rattled me, baffled me, frightened me and lodged a full-fledged attack on my peace like the last few years. I won’t go into details, as they are not needed, and wouldn’t change a thing if I did.
I grew up in the 80s and watched my parents make the serious and difficult sacrifice to get out of debt. So, post, financial makeover, I was reared to protect my credit like I protected my name because credit and my name were synonymous. Through college I never had credit cards. After college, I had “charge cards” to places like Casual Corner and paid it back to maintain A+ credit. When I went to purchase another car in 2013 after my Lexus of 11 years died, I was told I had credit so good I could by a “private jet”.
Beginning in 2013, things out of my control which should have happened didn’t happen for a very long time. I was also stuck in a home above my single woman’s, non-profit net pay, subject to hundreds of viewing people over the six years it was on the market, dealing with banks, realtors, letters, emails, calls and so on. Then, it happened. My credit dropped lower than a frisky 1990s co-ed in the Citizen Club in Tuscaloosa, Alabama when his/her favorite Uncle Luke, 12 Gauge or 69 Boyz song came on in the small, sweatbox by the cornfield. I was DEVASTATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beyond DEVASTATED, I was madder than James Evans when the gangbanger, Mad Dog shot JJ on that riveting episode of Good Times. (Check the nose flare, people.)
My peace was under attack, and my ability to respond as Christ would was not too far behind it. That, for me, was no way to be. I don’t know when it happened. I really don’t know how it happened, but for the grace of and good sense from God, however, at some point, after I was turned down for a great job due to bad credit, after a credit card limit was reduced by more than $6000, after I finally received a viable offer on my house but quickly realized at this juncture I wouldn’t be able to purchase another house to own for myself, PEACE prevailed. It took over.
I didn’t fret or panic as much. I prayed more. I asked more people to pray. I started “living” again, enjoying the house I was currently in not counting the costs of tomorrow or ignoring the blessings of today or yesterday. I stopped being frustrated by those who didn’t understand the dyer state of things for me because they’d never been in this situation and didn’t know full details but treated me as if they did (God bless them). I stopped focusing on who wasn’t doing what was supposed to be done and TRULY praised the Lord for what He was doing. And by doing, I mean the fact that my last year in my last home God covered the mortgage all by Himself. Yes, the scary letters and phone calls stopped. The threats of foreclosure or deed in lieu stopped. And, with not a dime paid to my gracious banking lender, I lived. He did that! Yep!
Now granted, I lived knowing each day my credit was dropping lower and lower and knowing that the eventual Short Sale I had to accept would take it lower than an intoxicated passenger in the limbo competition on a Caribbean cruise ship, but I lived through it to meet the most wonderful realtor who took me in figuratively like a young cousin telling me her testimony and working hard for two years to sell my home while also offering to literally allow me to stay with her when it looked like the bad credit was going to prevent me from even being able to rent a house (talk about SCARED out of my mind!) I lived to finally “meet” an amazingly, kind new landlord, who welcomed me to his property with full disclosure of my current credit profile (and we’ve never met face-to-face). I lived through to be able to give away SO MUCH good stuff to people who really needed it from the nine years I enjoyed my previous home. I still have more to give. Any takers? I lived biting my tongue and truly being able to pray God’s best for all involved. I lived to arrive to the most “homey” feeling neighborhood I’ve dwelled in since my days in West End, where I walk in my home that my God, my two jobs (#TitheGoneUp) and I can afford and I feel happy, thankful and full of peace. To God be the Glory!
As I sit and listen to the serenading birds enjoying the natural lighting beaming through my rental home I still don’t know where my already demolished credit will land after the Expedian report shows my April short sale, but I’m not bothered. I trust that a God who can pay a big money mortgage for more than a year and can restore the credit of so many friends who have shared their testimony and can keep me from acting out of who He created me to be can cover my credit like a Vivica A. Fox snug wig straight out of the net. I trust Him.
An al.com article about Alabama’s former first lady Dianne Bentley sparked some recent and old feelings about what to do and what to say after the breakup. Thankfully, many of have not experienced the ultimate breakup granted by the lingering pains and/or effects of divorce. Chile, be glad about it. But I would think that most have experienced a breakup one way or the other whether it be with a mate, with a job or from an organization and have been faced with the question of what to say, how much to say and to whom.
The article noted so eloquentely how Mrs. Bentley has been just that, eloquent, in this whole sordid process being publicly played out in the press and the privacy of our own homes, memes and phones. What an example of class, poise and trust in God! I needed her as a fresh and real reminder right now to stay the course of silence. For those of you who know me you must know that I love to talk. It’s what I do. So to have a virtual muzzle on my mouth regarding things which are personal, painful, and sometimes public whether I want them to be or not, and not be able to truly and fully speak on it from my point of view offering unshared truths has truly been a lesson learned with some repeated classes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe in the power of wise counsel and know that to carry the weight of any breakup on my back alone would be more detrimental than I could bare. So there are those who know what the real deal is because I can trust them to handle it, stay hushed up, not rile me up into a state of tomfoolery and not hinder the plans God obviously has in place with no need of a running mouth ruining it. However, I recognize through trial and error that:
So, whether through divorce, the end of a dating relationship, separation from a job/church/organization or any breach of association, SILENCE, that difficult, unfair, trying, yet necessary stance is the way to go. It really does serve its purpose when it’s allowed to, uninterrupted. #silence
Divorce has a dastardly way of trying to cause you to keep looking back and around, rather than forward.
Some look back wondering why. Others look back questioning what if. Many look back full of regrets. While some get consumed with looking at what’s going on around wondering what the “ex” is doing, how well he or she is doing, waiting on their demise, being concerned with what people are thinking or caught up with what people are saying.
Words from the Wise: Look ahead, honey. Be so unshakably focused on what’s ahead that you can’t be bothered with who or what is behind or around. Set your sights firmly on the newness awaiting and like a good HBCU marching band hurrying into formation just before the “break it all the way down” interlude or a perfectly perfected military regime know that FORWARD is the order of the day. #lookahead #marchon
Hearing of a former spouse of a superstar who is now engaged to another superstar share a bit of “shade” regarding her exes engagement brought a point home. Breakups are hard. Ask me how I know. Seeing the one you broke up with or who broke up with you build a new relationship can be harder, especially if it’s public, even in our own little worlds. BUT, Ladies, we can’t be that girl. What girl you ask?
We can’t become that girl who:
We can’t become that girl, but we can be a better woman.
A funny thing happened to my Hotmail account. It flashed back to 2008 and is permanently stuck there on my phone, totally disregarding all other correspondence from then until now. While deleting several dozen emails representing My Life: Phase 1 I found some old pictures from way back in the 90s.
Let me just say, the Lord has a sense of humor. The few pictures which stuck out most were ones of me at some of my career highs and personal lows in My Life: Phase 1. I looked at them with an equal amount of overwhelming proudness from the woman I saw, as if she wasn’t me. I looked at them also as a reminder of who I really am, what I’m made of, from where I’ve come and Who’s in control. (Not to mention I LOVE the spark of sass I saw even through the grainy-ness of those forgotten photos.)
To the high heels everyday, blue suit and fierce, precision, layered red hair wearing go-getter, who would get up at 3:30am drive to one part-time job clear across town from her Highway 280 apartment, then burn rubber in her champagne gold Nissan Maxima to her head her full-time news gig at 9am, work until the news demanded no more, and still make time to take time for herself, her friends, a bustling social life, lots of community service, active work in the church and of course, time for family I say, “thank you for reminding me of what’s in me.” I owe you, girl.
To the naïve, young woman full of hopes and dreams and love and expectations at her engagement party beaming on the stairwell with thoughts of what God desires for her and of her, excitedly posing at the exact place which would ultimately end up being her place of employment after the elaborate engagement party hosted for the wonderful wedding which led to a short-lived marriage ending in divorce (and the desperate need for employment in My Life: Phase 2) I say “thank you for reminding me of what’s in me.” I owe you, girl.
To the woman who endured the PAINFUL, experimental, super long steroid shots in the eye covered by an itchy, irritating as the dickens patch to keep her eye from popping out, taking 17 pills a day, who gained 50 pounds in one month after a fight with Graves Disease and Thyroid Storm tried to send her home to sweet Jesus, but couldn’t (BOOM!), yet still monitors and deals with it to this day I say, “thank you for reminding me of what’s in me.” I owe you, girl.
Here’s what I know. Nothing happens without reason. Today, for some reason, as I sat in delightful solitude at home enjoying my peace and quiet God wanted me to take a look back knowing it was what I needed to help propel me forward. I know he knew that not only could I handle those TONS of emails and pictures representing My Life: Phase 1 without a smidgen of anger, sadness or regret, but that I would view them with lots of smiles and giggles. And, because I know He knows His daughter, I know He knew I needed to be reminded, even through a grainy old photo, of how fly I looked nestled up on that television production board like a boss, so that I could prepare to be one in whatever new and blog-worthy ways He desires in My Life: Phase 2. So to those three versions of me in My Life: Phase 1, I say I owe you, girl. Your struggle, sass and sense of survival was not in vain. I hope to make you proud.