He never did let go, even when I thought He did.
The best adventure tales start with the hero in dreary circumstances, and typically involve him going through a series of trials and tribulations in which he finally learns his true identity, defeats the bad guy, and lives happily ever after. In some ways, my story is like that. In other ways, it is not. In my story, there are bad actions and good actions, and a bunch of flawed people who do both.
My story starts seven years ago today. June 2, 2006. I was a homeschooling mother of four beautiful children. We ate all-natural food, we played a lot and did school via action more than books. Two other homeschooling families lived on our peaceful little street, so the kids never lacked playmates. In so many ways, it was a perfectly ideal situation.
But it wasn't. I will spare the more gruesome details and give you some images instead:
- A pot of macaroni and cheese being flung across the kitchen at me because that was the wrong dinner.
- An indent in a wall from a child's rear end, because she had been angrily pinned against it using a sleeper sofa(yes, this was reported to Social Services later).
- not being able to go anywhere because my keys were taken during the day
Seven years ago today, those images forever became a thing of the past. I woke up. I left. The kids and I left. We didn't take anything with us. I detailed later that we eventually were able to pick up a few rubbermaid totes (four, I think, in total) of our things. Then the trials began. Again, sparing the gruesome details:
- Kids going into public school for the first time, in a small-town environment where everyone is related
- Me searching for a job for six weeks, finally landing a waitress job, then breaking my foot and losing my job
- My inability to make even the simplest decisions or figure out how to run a house because, until then, all decisions and schedules were made for me
- A crazy neighbor who would threaten us, harass us, and even beat up my dad
- Nursing school
- more details of abuse emerging from the children once they were in a safe environment
- my oldest child's numerous (10+) short-term hospitalizations, and her 2.5 years gone from my home, gone so far and we missed her every. single. day.
- my oldest child's eventual readmission to my home and all the fallout from it
- me trying to navigate relationships, both friendship and romantic.
- Despair, lack of faith, hopelessness
Factor in all the usual tribulations of raising children (stitches, puke, lying, bullying, lack of sleep).
I remember yelling at God a lot. I remember doubting He existed or, if He did, He must not love me. I resented the situation I'd been thrown in. Sometimes I wanted to press rewind and go back to our old life. I think all the trials lasted five years, almost six. It seemed like FOREVER. It's only since last June 2nd that I've realized we're finally getting out of that junk. I only realized it because last June 2nd, I didn't even notice it was June 2nd because I was busy with my kids and boyfriend!
So we should be coming to the true identity part, right? I'm not sure. I've learned a lot about myself in seven years. I've learned that I was called to be a nurse, and I believe that with every fiber of my being. When I am at work doing what I do, I feel...right. I've also learned my horrible weaknesses and flaws as a single parent, but I've gained so much more love and appreciation for my children. They are my world, even if my teenagers think I'm mean and don't love them. I've learned that a man CAN love me for me, and a man can be gentle and kind to me.
Most of all, I have learned grace. I have learned, as my pastor often paraphrases, I am more sinful and lost than I could ever imagine, and more loved and accepted than I could ever dare dream. I have learned to show grace and compassion because that is what the Lord has shown me. I have learned to let go of my cynicism that I once held up like a shield and am learning to drop the sarcasm I so often use as a weapon. Instead, I choose to carry grace in both hands, neither weapon nor shield, but instead a healing balm for those I offend and those who offend me.
The bad guy? Well, that's humanity, isn't it? My ex-husband is not a monster. He is a deeply flawed person, yes, but not a monster. He was once a little boy who toddled and grinned: Somewhere deep inside is that little boy still. I can only pray God, through His love, lets that little boy come out again. The bad guy is me, you, and everyone else who chooses selfishness and pride instead of grace and love. We all do it. We all screw up the world with it.
As for a happy ending, we'll just have to see where I'm at in seven more years. The sweet boyfriend and I are talking big plans for the future. My youngest child is going into seventh grade. My oldest child has been in college for 2 years now. My middle daughter will be a senior, and my son will be a freshman in high school. I'm back in school getting my RN and should be done in a year at most. So all I can guess is that the next seven years will be the kind of happy adventure that gets tacked on in the epilogue of a great book!
OHHHHH...and why did I write this? Because I know there are some of you in the midst of your own trials. I want to remind you that your Author has a plan for you. :)