I have read several blog posts the past week or so about life's plans. A script. An idea of how life will go. A picture we have in our head of what life looks like at 20, 25, 30 years old. I thought "Hey, I should write about that!" But because it was finals week, and because I'm pretty darn lazy, I posted CoCo's five month update instead. Because that's important. Remembering the little details about these kid as they grow is important and I need this blog to do it because my mind is going, going, gone. I can't remember anything anymore, it seems.
Then, on Sunday, the Pastor preached about the same topic. And I'm fairly certain he and I don't read the same blogs. So it's a very popular topic lately, I'm seeing.
And it's true. If you had told me ten years ago that at 29 I would be sitting at a McDonald's watching my five children play in the playplace while having a heart to heart with a woman who is going through a divorce, I would have laughed at you. "No way! I'm never having five kids!" And when you told me that the reason I was listening to this woman was because I could relate to her, having gone through my own divorce, I would have said "Okay, now I KNOW you're crazy. I don't even believe in divorce! I'm never getting married unless I know it's forever!"
And let's not even get started on what the past version of me would have said if you had told me that I was reconciling with the guy I divorced. In the past I was very vocal about how I would totally be done and gone if a guy ever cheated on me.
Like some people know everything about parenting before they are actually parents, it's easy to out forth black and white statements about marriage before you're married. Or after you're married and before you've gone through it. Or after you're married and you have gone through it. But if there is one thing I have learned, it's that it's imperative not to project our own experiences on someone else's situation.
It would be easy for me to say separated or divorced couples should always wait it out and that it will be worth it. But that's just not true, and telling someone that would be just as wrong as someone saying that no one should ever give anyone who cheats or leaves a second chance. Because neither one is right all the time. As much as we'd like to think it's a black and white situation, there are always shades of gray. So you will never hear me counsel someone to stay away or wait it out. Instead, probably the only and best thing I could and ever would do is simply listen, relate, and then say one simple thing. "You need to pray about this. Then probably pray about it some more."
Because my answer or your answer doesn't actually matter. What's right for me or what's right for you is only right for me and you. Everyone is different and everyone's situation is different, and none of us have a right to judge or tell anyone else what to do. But what does matter is making sure that we are, to the best of our ability, acting within God's will for us. It can be hard to figure out what that is sometimes, and His answer is different for different people. Not because one person deserves more or less than another, but because each situation, no matter how similar it seems, is so varied and intricate that the answer can't possibly be the same every time. It can be easy to judge and say "What's wrong with her? Doesn't she realize?" In fact, it can be easy to make snap judgments. "She must be doing it because he hits her and she has a victim mentality." "She must think she can't do any better!" Those just aren't things we can ever know, and it's silly to speculate about them. For every situation there are so many varied and numerous issues that lead up to something like cheating or a spouse leaving that it's impossible to offer a viable equation that spits out the right answer. There's no formula that is foolproof.
Sometimes, God is going to release someone from a marriage. Sometimes, He'll foster those connections even when you're doing your best to cut them yourself. Sometimes even when we're acting within God's will, the other person in the relationship isn't, and there's that pesky thing called free will...we've all got it.
So the answer is always different. And as our pastor said a couple of weeks ago, God will not always end a storm when we ask him to, but He'll always walk through it with us, not matter how long it lasts. And lots of times? Lots of times he won't let that storm end until we have had enough growth to prove that we won't be searching that storm out ever again. John quoted it back to our Pastor in counseling last week, and he said it really well. "I think it's true. I wanted out last year but I hadn't really changed. And God doesn't let you out of the storm until He know you won't cause the same storm all over again."
So life may not go according to plan. Our husbands might leave. Our kids might die. And on lighter notes, our kids may not be the perfect angels we always thought they'd be. We might not get the perfect job. We may end up staying at home when we always thought we'd have a big career. We might end up at work when all we want to do it be at home.
Life happens. And sometimes it's messy and confusing. My heart was breaking for the woman I was with last night and it was breaking a little for me, too, as I related my own story to her. But seeing that she felt less alone after talking to me made me feel stronger and less alone, too. One of the biggest blessings God gives us, even in sucky situations, is other people. After Eli died, people were pretty ugly at times. Many people don't understand that a full term still birth is no less a baby than a baby who dies after birth. In fact, it wasn't until Eli's memorial service when people saw photographs of Eli that it really clicked. We'd lost a baby. A visible, tangible, perfect baby. Not the idea or the plan or the hope of a baby...we'd lost a 6 pound 6 ounce baby boy with curly black hair who looked so much like his brother and sister I was sure he was about to take a breath.
But among the people that told me I could have another baby, or that there was probably something wrong with him (which there wasn't, for the record..he was perfectly healthy and it was instead my own blood clotting disorder that caused his death), there were the people who met me right where I was and were literally God with skin on to me at a time I could barely bring myself to pray. I felt so alone when Eli died. I didn't know anyone else who had gone through it. The same thing when Seth was diagnosed and John left. Life changing events can leave you feeling really isolated and without support. I just wanted to meet one person who had gone through it too.
And so when people email or call me when their husband leaves or when their baby dies or when they get the diagnosis of deafness for one of their children, I try to remember that even though it would be easy to just feel sorry for myself because I have gone through a trifecta of sad events and am therefore a good example of what not to do, I can instead feel really blessed that I can be "God with skin on" to other people who need it and feel alone.
And so, no matter how far I am from where I thought I would be today, I've got to say that this is a pretty good place to be and I think it's pretty awesome that God brought me here instead of going by my directions.
5 hours ago