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You Think You Know But You Have No Idea

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I was at lunch with some friends the other day and I noticed something. As much fun as I was having with them, I noticed how surface-y the conversation was.

It’s not that I want deep, introspective conversations at every mealtime or get together. It’s impossible to do that with such big groups of people. Sometimes you just want light and fun conversation where you can forget about things that are troubling you and you need an escape. And sometimes you just don’t want to talk about yourself and you don’t want to hear about everyone else’s heavy stuff. Sometimes it’s better to keep a distance so you don’t get too involved.

At the same time though, it made me realize that a lot of people don’t really know me. Sure, people see me every week, we talk, we hang out. But I also realize that they don’t know me. I don’t get asked questions beyond normal chit-chat. And a lot of time I do the exact same thing. I’m not sure if people either don’t know what to ask or if they read my blog and think they don’t need to. I’m not the type of person to volunteer information either. I figure if you wanted to know, you’d ask and if you don’t ask, then you don’t want to know.

For example, I have a good feeling a lot of folks have no idea that I’m divorced. It’s not like I walk around introducing myself like “Hi, I’m Deborah. I’m divorced.” I’m not trying to hide this fact about myself. It’s just not something I’m going to voluntarily bring up the first time I meet you or even on the first date unless the conversation leads in that direction. People just assume I’m single and never been married because I will admit, it’s how I act. Since kids weren’t involved and it was done very non-messy, there’s nothing really to indicate anything else. While statistically and legally I would have to classify myself in this way, I don’t live my life based on this label. There are different connotations to just being single and being divorced. Again not trying to hide anything at all. It is just something that I don’t bring up unless I have to. 9 times out 10, it is not something that has to be brought up.

And yet it is a part of me and I feel like if you don’t know that part, you don’t really know me. For folks that know me in person, if you’re reading this and made it this far, if you want to talk, just ask me. I’m more than happy to talk.

I’ve been thinking lately about how I would like to share my testimony with people. It’s been a while since I shared it and even then it was only with a select group of people. I know that sharing how I found and lived my faith is something that is very important. It’s not something where I’m like “turn and burn” after you hear this. It’s more of I know that what happened in my life affected my faith and my faith affected what happened in my life. But I’m worried about telling it. I feel like I’m going to get judged by a lot of Christians when I share it. Why? Because it’s a messy story. It’s not something that they are going to be able to relate to. They’ll hear my story and it doesn’t matter if they know me or not, they’ll make snap judgments about me.

Someone asked me “Why do you want everyone knowing your deep secrets?” The answer to that is I don’t. Not everyone needs to know everything about my life just like I don’t need to know everything about theirs. But the parts of my life that I do feel I need to share, I want to share. Just have to figure out a way to properly do so.

Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. (Psalm 66:16)

Photo credit: (Original source: National Ocean Service Image Gallery)

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The Elephant in the Room

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So it is time that we acknowledged it.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I’ve talked a lot about being single and how it’s been a struggle trusting God and waiting during this time period. However, if you are someone who used to follow my old blog and/or you know me in real life but we aren’t super close, then you are probably somewhat confused and have been wondering things for a while but was just afraid to ask.

So to answer your unasked question, I am currently single and I didn’t used to be. I got married when I was 24 and got divorced when I was 28. Out of respect for my ex-husband and because the entire world doesn’t need to know, I am not going to state publicly the reason for our divorce. However, if I am asked about it (and I know you somewhat), I don’t mind talking about it.

As a Christian, divorce can be a very touchy subject. Even when I was going through my own process, it was something that I had to pray a lot about and went through counseling before finally making the decision. It was a hard and tough one to make, quite possibly the most difficult decision I ever made. It’s not something you think about doing when you start the relationship (at least I hope the majority of people don’t do it). It’s definitely not something to be taken lightly. When I finally made the decision, I knew that I was going to lose a lot. I lost a lot of friendships.The biggest things were all the hopes and dreams that I had. I also had to rebuild myself up; my self-esteem and confidence from feeling like I wasn’t worthy or good enough.

I believe due to the nature of the reason of the divorce, I haven’t received any outward negative reactions from most people. One thing I was terrified of was being judged, especially by other Christians because of what it says in the Bible about divorce. And I know that there are people out there who do judge me. I will say this: before you judge me (or anyone else basically), unless you have gone through what I’ve gone through you will never know what it was like for me and you cannot tell me what I should have done or what you would have done instead. I made the decisions that was best for me in my situation and I have not regretted my choices and no matter what anyone says to me, I will not feel guilty for what happened. However, if there are people who are judging me horribly, they haven’t let me know right to my face. Instead I have found love, caring, and understanding in the people I have shared this with.

It is a bit weird sometimes to relate with other divorced women in the church. As I was only 28 when it was finalized (and I had been separated much earlier), I’m still quite young compared with most other women. They tended to be in the 40s+ and with children. And their situations are completely different from mine.

There have been though some amazing and things that have come out of all this. First and foremost, my faith in God has skyrocketed. During the worst parts of all this, I felt so alone and abandoned by everyone, including God. I was so angry at him for having all this happen and I blamed him for everything. But looking back, I realize that he never left me. He was protecting me the whole time and keeping me from harm. Even during the absolute worst time, I was in the final weeks of graduate school and I had two huge papers that I needed to write, and I have no idea how I was able to concentrate and get it done and I somehow walked away with a B+ and an A. Since then, I’ve never stopped seeking God and wanting to learn more from him.

I’ve also found that I’ve had to do things to step out of my comfort zone. Because I was finding myself being alone, I knew that I had to reach out other people even though (as I’ve stated) I hate initiating things. My church has an active young adult group and I forced myself to attend so I could find community and not be alone. Even though it was horrible rough and awkward for me at first, I kept going and that has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Through doing that, I’ve found some of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life, who continually show me love and have been there every time I needed someone. I found that I didn’t have to go through it alone. I cannot thank them enough for being there during those horrible rough times and I know that God specifically placed them in my life. I have been blessed so much that I feel like I can never repay them and I continue to so thankful for them. In fact, my church in general has been wonderful throughout all this, showing and providing me support when I didn’t think it was possible.

My specific situation has also seen so much good come out of it. I’ve been able to share my story with other people and I’ve seen God specifically work in their lives because of it. It makes me look back and realize that even through a horrible mess God can create something beautiful. One of my very favorite stories ever of God working in my life is me being able to share my story with someone, who at the time I had known for about a week and a half. God kept nudging and telling me to share my story, which I kept resisting because I barely knew the person. Then I literally felt God hit me on the head to speak, and so I  finally shared not knowing why I was doing this (as I hadn’t shared my story with even my closest friends) and just trusted God. Nothing was said that night to explain the reason and I felt rather foolish doing it. But then it was revealed to me a few weeks later exactly why I shared and that spiraled off into so much good, that it can’t be denied how much God was working in our lives. Since then if God tells me to do something, I don’t resist him anymore.

So there have been many things I’ve learned and been blessed from God from this.

I’m not saying I’m in an ideal situation though. Being divorced still has somewhat of a stigma. I can’t hide it and I’m not going to. Sometimes though it almost feels like a label. If the option is there, I have to choose divorced. If someone can’t accept the fact that I’m divorced and that becomes a deal breaker, I have to accept it. We all come with baggage, I just come with some that I can’t hide. There are many people who believe that I should never get married again, and I have committed a horrible sin. As I do want to start dating again now, it can possibly be a very uphill road to climb. There are guys who will only want girls who have never been married and will never look twice at me once I reveal it to them. It’s sometimes hard to not be jealous of my friends who are going through all the events I’d thought I’d be experiencing now. It’s harder to wait and hope that one day it will eventually happen to me.

But it’s going to be ok. I’ve become a much stronger person because of this. If you were to see me four years ago and then see me now, you wouldn’t recognize me. Heck I barely even recognize myself. It seems like a completely different life time ago. I’ve basically become a different, better, and stronger person because of all this. It’s been an adventure and it’s going to continue to be one. I never thought I’d find myself in this place again, I thought I was done with dating and all the emotions that come with it.  It’s not going to be all fun and games as broken hearts, unrequited love, awkward times, all that jazz will and have already happened.

But you know what? I’m excited about it. I feel that I have a different approach and mindset now than I did before, mostly coming from being older and wiser. I have learned a lot from my past and I believe that when it’s time, I’ll enter a new relationship with a better expectations and with a new way of approaching things. God’s put me in this time and place for a reason and I choose to trust him with all this. I’ve gotten a chance to have a reboot in my life, and my goal is to make it worth it. I still believe that God has in his plans for me to get married and eventually have a family. He has continued to place that desire in my heart and so with a lot of prayer I wait for that day, trusting that God will be faithful and fulfill his promise.

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.