The mind can be a mess. It can also be a blessing. Either way it’s the collector and receptacle of all things Y-O-U, whether good or not. With that said, it’s also a liar…a lot. There’s nothing like a tainted mind from a scarred heart, twisted interpretation, unhealthy self-esteem or unfortunate experience that jacks you up in the worse way ever with thoughts which simply shouldn’t be…if you don’t do something to heal it.
I was perusing social media and saw some posts from someone who seemingly has a very negative perception about people. This person’s posts were mostly subtle or direct posts about how people (mis)treat this person, rising above people, payback for people, etc. Sadly, this persons life is likely like that as well. It was painful to read because I can’t imagine living in such a cynical, negative and guarded state. I also can’t imagine how living life through that muddy mind filter might have prevented this person from having healthy, abundant and real relationships with various people this person probably has isolated, thought was against him/her, talked about badly or simply didn’t trust. And I’m Certain (with a capital C) that at the end of the day all this person really wanted was healthy, abundant and real relationships with various people.
I know this person is not alone in the “Your Mind’s Playing Tricks on You” saga.
Here are the facts in case your mind forgot…
It’s not as bad as you think.
People aren’t always as bad as you think.
Not as many people hate you as you think.
Not as many people hate on you as you think.
Not as many people even think about you as much as you think they think about you.
Not everyone is against you.
Sometimes it’s not them you don’t trust it’s you. (Just being honest)
Unresolved pain can cloud clear thinking…for as long as you allow it.
Your own thoughts and actions can do far more harm than anyone else’s can.
There are people who love you.
There are people who understand you.
There are people who can be trusted.
The game of isolating people before you think they’re going to isolate you still leaves you isolated.
Sometimes how you feel others feel about you is really how you feel about yourself.
“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?
I say this with all sincerity and no sarcasm. Thank you for leaving.
Thank you for doing for me what I obviously couldn’t or wouldn’t do for myself. Thank you for being used as a mighty instrument of God to escort me to my new/now/next. Thank you for helping grow me in areas I didn’t know I was malnourished. Thank you for recognizing that either your role in my life had ended or my role in yours was expired. Thank you for playing a part in making me strong in areas which were weak. Thank you for causing me to upgrade my prayer life and my faith walk. Thank you for showing me places I needed help and in a hurry. Thank you for being a reflection of patterns, poor choices, ignored signs and mistakes which all belonged to no one but me, regardless of what all happened. Thank you for leaving your space at the table for those who belonged and were bringing something with them. Thank you for causing me to elevate my forgiveness, grace and mercy. Thank you for teaching me how to love and let go. Thank you for showing me I could shut my mouth. Thank you for being the catalyst for the amazing associations and for real friendships which soared after ours sufficated. Thank you for clearing the path for others to step up when you decided to step away.
While your leaving didn’t make a hill of beans of sense, I’m glad it didn’t because if I could have figured it out I would have tried to fix it. While your leaving may have scared the hebedegebees out of me I’m glad it did because I was comforted, strengthed and encouraged in ways which rival the best of Biblical stories. While your leaving might have caused the wind to be knocked slap out of me I’m glad because I was able to experience Jesus’ sweet wind beneath my flailing wings carrying me to heights not before seen. And while tears might have been my initial response to your departure my lingering after affect was/is laughter…that gut-wrenching, eye-squenching, head-hurting, side-splitting, cheek-aching kind of laughter void of a single ounce of tea or any smidgen of shade, and filled with THANK YOU JESUS…thank you leavers.
So in all the languages known to man, or to me…Thank you for leaving. I sincerely wish you all well and appreciate your roles in my journey whether we again cross paths or not.
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 HighlandsRestoration 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:
I wonder how she’s going to handle navigating through the imminent ex-wife and the children situations…also known as drama.
I wonder how she’ll feel on holidays, if she’s alone as the man and his former spouse figure out how to do what’s best for the children (and the children deserve the best.)
I wonder what will happen if he decides to go back to his ex-wife.
I wonder what would happen if he shuts down communication with her because of the pressures of his new and reduced financial arrangements.
I wonder if she’s even asked him if he’s gone to counseling and still going.
I wonder how she’ll respond if she gets the side eye from friends or his family members who prefer the former wife.
I wonder what’s going to happen the first time he accidentally calls her the ex-wife’s name or makes an unfair comparison of her macaroni and how she folds clothes.
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.
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:
Everyone can’t handle my story of what happened before, during and after the breakup. That means it would be foolish of me to share with the world why what happened has affected my current living options and way of life, or why it took six years for my house to sell, or why I didn’t make the move to divorce first, or whether I knew divorce was coming or not, or why I didn’t allude to others of any problems prior to the divorce, or why I didn’t go back when my former spouse felt he wanted me to, or why I am still friends with some people from our former shared circle, or why some from our former shared circle are no longer friends with me (there is a difference in those two things I just said), or what the divorce decree really said, or what really happened with what was decreed and supposed to be done, or why I won’t entertain or engage negative comments regarding my past or my former spouse, or why my response is usually “Just pray”, and so on and so on and so on. You may hear it but not from me.
Everyone shouldn’t know my story until it’s sealed and wrapped in a pretty little God-blessed bow. I realize that some simply can’t handle the truth. I can barely handle it and it happens to me. I feel the same as I hear of the hurts which happen to those I love, immediately wanting to “fix it” sometimes not through the best of means and especially because it’s not my bees-wax. To share it out of angst or “I’ll get even”, or prematurely without God’s ultimate desires of healing, restoration (according to His design not our definition) and progress taking place would do His plans, even through a breakup, a total disservice. I need God TOO MUCH to do Him a disservice any more than I already have in my 44 years of life.
People are going to believe what they want or need to believe. I see now that some people have to condition themselves to see, believe or accept what they feel they need to in order to keep them in the place of comfort or convenience for where they feel they need to be (and for what reasons). That’s cool. However, to take the position of defense in honor of those things I know to be true because I lived it, and try to explain, vindicate, mitigate or simply be messy does nothing but create more mess. Breakups are a mess with no help needed.
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.
torn piece of paper with divorce text and paper couple figures
Some look backwondering 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
Situations and relationships come and go. Unfortunately, what doesn’t always leave when they go is the baggage they bring with them and to us. As women we are often the unknowing recipients of other people’s simmering stuff. That, mixed with our own mess, and carrying it along “for the ride”, stifles the very essence of life. And while I’m there, let me just say that, again, as women, we know when we’re not right. We know when our attitudes, actions, reactions or reasoning are off, and if we’re honest, we can be honest about the who/what/where/when/why behind it. Those subtle or not so subtle insecurities, sarcasms, quick (hot headed) responses, fears, bouts of envy, fits of doubt, lack of trust with anyone, assumptions of the worse in others and so much more could merely be baggage we failed to dispose. Baggage, ours or from others, and ALL it brings with it isn’t a mystery or invisible unless we choose to pretend that it is.
The older I get and the more I see the more I know that leftover baggage can do a lot of damage. It can weigh down, slow down, hold up and hurt! Yes, shame on the other parties for leaving their guck with us. However, shame on us for letting it linger.
Like the stellar services of an excellent concierge at a five star hotel or the terminal workers at our favorite airports, we have earned the right to check our baggage leaving it at the door. The ONLY baggage we need to carry into our future is that made by Samsonite, Louis Vuitton, American Tourister or Gucci, sold online or available in stores.
The days of holding on to what holds us up are passe’. That means PAST in case you didn’t know.