June 15, 2015

Thinking About Tomorrow

It is a beautiful day here in sunny and hot (not very hot yet) Phoenix. Our high temperatures today are expected to hit 109. Thankfully, our humidity level is very low (12%) so while the outside air is very warm, there is no "stickiness" to go along with it. My time in Virginia convinced me that I do not like the humidity. It was warm all week (in the 90s), and every time I went inside a store, restaurant, or my hotel room, my body had a hard time adjusting to the change in temperature. I was either sticky hot or freezing cold. In many ways, I prefer the hot and dry weather we have here in Phoenix. I mean, at the least, I am cool (not cold) inside my house, and that awful clammy feeling is gone. I don't know how I will survive living any where there is high heat and humidity. Sigh!

Well, as I blogged yesterday, I am very glad to be home. Not just because of the weather change, but also because I am happy to be in my own bed, surrounded by my own things, and back on my normal routine. Yes, I have become a creature of habit, just like my cats, and I find that I need the comfort of routine to help me deal with the stress in my life. I guess it is like this -- when you are stressed due to work, school, or family issues -- having a constant routine provides stability and comfort. I find that I can deal with the upset better if I am surrounded by my things. I sleep better, I wake up at a regular time each day, I eat the same breakfast, I spend down-time watching the news, I snuggle with my cats, and I blog on the computer. My morning routine is fixed, and it brings me comfort. I know what to expect each day so that when I have to do something or go somewhere, I can easily figure out transition time -- the time needed to work up to the thing as well as the time needed to rest from it. All of this is to say that I do not do well with interruptions or with difficulties brought on by travel or changes in my life/schedule/routine. Sigh!

Today, I started to think about my tomorrow (figuratively and literally), and as soon as I did, I got that sinking feeling in my stomach. I started to panic. I felt uneasy, and I began to feel the sway of the rocking boat. So long as I don't think about tomorrow, then I feel okay, as if the boat is floating on calm waters. I am guessing it is like the story of the disciples when they were in the boat and the storm rose up. They panicked of course and were upset that Jesus was soundly asleep. This is how I feel when I start to worry about my future. I panic and I feel like I am the only one who sees the approaching storm, who feels the swells and the sway of the boat. The Lord is asleep, is He not?

Of course, we know this is not true. The Bible tells us that the Lord never slumber or sleeps (Psalm 121:4-5), and that He knows what our tomorrows will bring (Job 14:5). There is no need to worry, yet still I worry, I panic, and I stress over all that is unknown in my life today.

Matthew 6:34 NLT says, "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." I am not sure this verse brings me comfort because I really don't want to have any trouble today, know what I mean? Why must there be trouble? Is it not possible for the Christian to walk through this life without trouble? Okay, so a minimum of trouble will suffice, but must we suffer through continual trial and stress? Why, Lord? Why?

Again, I know the answer, and I understand that in this life, there will be trials (struggles, stress). John 16:33 NLT says, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." This is the truth of the Word, and no matter how much we want to wish it away, the fact remains that our "lot in life," so to speak, is to suffer so that we will be conformed to His image (which means -- not only His character, but also to His death, burial, and resurrection). Yes, as Christians, our life is not all roses. Many times we find ourselves, through no choice of our own, amidst the thorns in the bush.

How then shall we live? How then are we to face tomorrow?

It is an interesting question to ponder, and normally I would take the offensive and simply say "live by faith!" However, since I am the one asking the question, I must be the one who is struggling to find the answer (and yes, I do believe we live and walk by faith!) Let me explain...

Last evening, I had a good conversation with my special friend. It is no secret that I wonder about our relationship, how it came about, and what will be long-term. I mean, here I am a single woman of 52, not really looking to meet anyone, convinced in fact that I was meant to remain single, and all of a sudden I am cast into the midst of an online relationship. I didn't go looking for it, I didn't seek it out, and I didn't particularly long for it. In truth, I had no feelings whatsoever. I simply wasn't interested in a relationship at this time or for that matter, any time in the future. I was content to be single, to remain to be single, and to live out my days as a single woman. The Lord had other ideas, and I believe He brought me this wonderful man because it was His desire that I not be alone. It is an interesting thing to consider, how the Lord would know that I had a need for companionship, and that I needed to be with someone who would love me, care for me, and want to be a companion to me. 

You see, I thought I had my life all summed up. Yes, I had it all figured out. I mean, I was divorced (not by choice), and after dealing with that blow, I realized that the Lord had liberated me from years of unpleasantness, years of an unfulfilling marriage to a man who didn't love me or want me. The Lord allowed me to be divorced, and by that I mean, He allowed my ex-husband to walk away from me. He didn't stop him nor did He draw him back to me. He let him go, and once I realized that the Lord wasn't going to restore our relationship (we are reconciled, which is different), I had to choose what to do, where to go, and how to live my life. For a long while, I chose to do nothing. I chose to remain in "limbo" as a married but single person. My ex moved on, and I moved on, but I was unwilling to bear the stigma of being "divorced." It wasn't until last year that I came to terms with our separation, and the fact that my ex had no intention of reuniting with me. He was very happy to be free, and he told me as much. He thanked me for letting him go (as weird as that may sound). He told me that he appreciated my willingness to stay married, to put our son first, and to be the support system for our family. He thanked me for all the hard work I did on behalf of his business. He said that he liked me, but never had loved me, and that he appreciated the person I was. I guess it was his way of saying to me that our relationship was ending, like a business partnership ends, with a shake of hands, a division of collateral, and a warm hug and a thank you. In truth, this is exactly how our relationship ended, contractually, with closure that said "we lasted 30 years, but now it is over."

It took me a long time to let the marriage go. It wasn't that I wanted to be restored to this man because I didn't. I had put up with a difficult marriage and extended family relationships that tore the fabric of my person a part. I had compromised myself to the point where I no longer knew who I was because I was always worried about what other people thought, wanted, or needed. I had become the "go to person" of the family, and I was a chameleon who shifted and shaped themselves to fit the need. I was miserable, utterly miserable, unfulfilled, and isolated and alone. I wanted out many times over the course of the marriage, and even prayed to be released (prior to my son being born). I cried, I begged, and I pledged my obedience to the Lord -- if only -- He would release me. He didn't of course, not back then, not for many years. In time, though I was released, and in time, I had to deal with the psychological trauma that comes with a marriage crumbling and dying.

I also suffered with condemnation by Christians who felt that I was to blame for the marriage failure, that somehow I gave up, gave in, and in the end, walked away. Of course, they do not understand what it was like for me because they know my ex and they see him as a nice guy. Yes, in truth, he was a nice guy, friendly, likable, sociable. He came from a good family, a God-honoring family. He didn't seem the type to walk away, to leave his family, and to want to be divorced. Yet, this is what happened, and without going into details, much of what went on between us happened behind closed doors. No one knew it, saw it, so it does look on the outside like we both just gave up.

In August, it will be one full-year since my divorce was finalized. It is hard to believe but one year has passed since the judge granted us a divorce. I don't think about that stigma anymore, and now I only consider myself a single person. I made peace with what had transpired, and I let go of the past hurt. I let my ex have his freedom, and I embraced the life that I felt the Lord had in mind for me. I took on new roles, head of household and single parent, with gusto and I became the legitimate bread winner for my family. I made deals, I bought major purchases, and I began to use the power I had as a strong, self-sufficient single woman. I was happy for the first time in years, and I was content to be where I was even though I didn't really understand what God was calling me to do.

This brings me back to my future plans, to thinking about tomorrow, and to imagining a life that looks a bit differently than what I thought would be. Yes, I am imagining that perhaps the Lord has in mind for me to marry this wonderful man, to share my life with him, and to spend my days with him so that I will no longer be alone.

Genesis 2:18 says, "Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him." It is interesting to imagine that the Lord determined that it was not good for me to spend my days alone. Loneliness is a silent killer. I was married for 30 years, and yet I lived alone. Sure, I slept in the same bed as my husband, and we did have a child together, but for many of those years, I was alone, isolated, and often left behind. My ex was involved in many outside activities, and he was always gone. I would wake up alone, spend my day alone, and go to bed alone. Our conversation revolved around shopping lists, bill paying, and occasionally, issues involving our son. We lived in silence, never speaking unless we had to speak, and never touching one another except for the once-in-awhile physical embrace. Our marriage was dead spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally. We were united in name, but there was no intimacy, no sharing of our intimate selves, no "knowing" as the Bible calls it (yes, there was sex, but not the physical intimacy that Scripture speaks of where husband/wife join to become one flesh and share deeply in that special way). 

Now, I am at the point in my life where I long for that type of intimacy. Yes, I can say it without any shame because I understand the difference. I see that what I had was not a Biblical marriage, but rather a typical worldly marriage predicated on selfish interests and desires. My marriage was contractual, legal, and it was a business relationship. Of course, neither of us went into the marriage thinking this is how it would be, but this is what happened after 30 years of life together. Could we have done things differently, could we have saved the marriage? I am certain that the marriage could have been restored had my husband wanted it to be this way. I believe that two hearts must be willing to be reconciled (first) and then restored (second). This is a God-thing that must take place, and it requires mutual submission where the individuals choose to willingly submit to God and to each other. When infidelity takes place in a marriage, it requires diligence and grace for full restoration to occur. In my case, my ex chose to walk his own way. I let him go, and the Lord has since allowed me to experience a new life. I am blessed, and I can say that while my marriage was not what it should have been, Biblically-speaking, I did learn a lot about relationships through the years I was married. I learned a lot about what to do as well as what not to do to grow a strong, stable, and healthy marriage.

This time, though, should the Lord allow me to marry, I am going to go into the relationship with my eyes wide open, with my heart in gear, and my head ready to do whatever is necessary to make things work. Why is this so? I think it is because I honor and I respect Biblical marriage. I believe that God's "normal" is for men and women to marry. I believe that God has a plan for His children, and this plan includes marriage. I am all in when it comes to being married again, but this time, I am also well-worn, well-adjusted, and so well-prepared for the pitfalls that can take over when two people settle into a relationship, relax, and start to rest. Marriage is a commitment. It is a contract, a covenant, and therefore, it is serious business. You don't go into it thinking of puff dreams and fantasy moments. It is hard work, difficult, and at times, devastatingly painful. Yet, it is a blessed union, a perfect fusion of two hearts, two minds, and two bodies committed to the Lord, to serving Him and serving each other. 

I started this blog post with the intention of writing about my frustration over my life, my current situation, and the way I am feeling (overwhelmed) about things not progressing as quickly as I had hoped. And yet, I am sitting here writing about my desire (a God-desire) to be married again. How can that be? I guess it is because the Lord has granted me the desires of my heart, and deep down inside of me, buried below my desire for financial security, my academic achievement, my struggles with pride (being elevated in positions of honor), there lays this kernel of desire that is called MARRIAGE/MARRIED FOR LIFE. Yes, deep inside of me there is the hope that someday I will meet a man who will want to spend the rest of his life with me, who will marry me and take me home with him. I want to be a wife again, and my desire which was buried so deeply in my heart, didn't surface until the Lord chose to let me meet someone by happenstance, a man who made me laugh, who causes me to think deeply about things, and who challenges and encourages me to be a better Christian woman, a Godly woman, a woman who loves the Lord first and foremost in her life.

God has granted me all the desires of my heart, and as I think about tomorrow, all I can say is that I am blessed, so very blessed. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know what my life will be like. I don't know where I will teach or if I will teach. I don't know where I will live. I just know that deep down inside my heart there is a part of me that was so lonely. Now that part of me is filled with joy, with happiness, and with laughter. I am no longer alone, and praise be to God, I am content to know that the Lord has provided for my deepest most difficult need. He has fulfilled His command from in the garden when He said that He would make a helper who is just right for him. The truth be told, He has made a companion who is just right for me, and for that I am truly thankful. God is good, so very good.

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