Broken…Not Together

Anger pierced the corridor like a sabre.  Glancing blows leave mortal wounds too deep to triage in the moment.  “Dumont!”  The name echoes through the chamber and I pop up, diligently and deliberately, cautious not look left or right – obedience is the only option.  “He won’t participate,” I say, numb, “even if you tell him he can.  He won’t.”  She looks at me as if to say “Are you even alive in there?”  I am – but barely.  I do what needs to be done in this room, no more, no less.  I have been here so many times before – all I can be is numb.  Anything else hurts too much.

We speak, very briefly.  Show her this document, answer that question.  Now wait and he’ll come in, but don’t go far.  I know the dance – believe me – I know.  I stand in the corridor, alone, stoic, jumbled with my huge binder – I have been here before…too many times to recount.  That binder is comfort and pain:  comfort in its organization and sanity; pain in its constant reminder of the next step and the last.

Just like that, we’re done.  He doesn’t agree to anything, as usual.  Courtroom B-1.  Roll call, and then waiting.  He whisks by and I don’t look up; I stare at the ground, subservient again.  I sit far and apart from him; his brother has appeared from somewhere…he needs someone with him at all times; not for moral support, but to keep him in check.  Roll call bellowed out, and then we wait.  We are moved to B-3 suddenly.  They complain – “Who is the Judge in that court?”  He feels bias against several Judges…or is it they are biased against him?  I can’t keep up.  I jump up and exit, not even listening to the argument.

In B-3, I take my seat.  The Judge reviews the file, and asks me a few questions.  I answer, politely, precisely.  Motion for Contempt – back Child Support.  He hasn’t paid anything in 1 year.  His argument – he didn’t agree to anything.  He doesn’t owe anything.  Now, he states he didn’t sign the Divorce Decree; after 1 year he finally admits he walked out of the hearing.  We all already knew that.  He becomes belligerent.  The Marshall moves to his table.  He can’t stop speaking.  The Judge instructs him to be quiet – the issues of today’s scope are narrow – he never really understands this point.  He goes on and on – the Marshall draws closer and closer.  His brother tries to calm him, to no avail.  I am given a last opportunity to add anything I need.  I readdress that he has never paid anything.  That he lives on proportionally more than the 4 of us do.  And that he had put in an appearance previously, that no one scammed him into getting divorced that day last April.

The Judge proceeds to deliver his sentence, and again he interrupts.  The Judge is now intolerant, and tells him to quiet himself for the last time.  He begins to sob uncontrollably.  The whole exchange is horrible – to witness – this man, this father, this once husband, falling so far from who he once was…

When the Judge is finished, I rush from the court, as I am now virtually holding back tears.  I am basically running down the hall, looking for refuge from them as they will be behind me any moment and I don’t want them to know I have broken – that my heart has broken once again for this situation that once was a marriage, a life, a family.  I make it to the Court Services office, to the far back table, and collapse in tears…face in my hands, sobbing.  How is it that, 2 years apart, I am still so impacted by what this man does and does not do?

I am reminded, however, that one person cannot carry a relationship alone.  And, more importantly, God needs to be the center of any relationship for it to really work.  You can be the best person, the best Christian, but you alone cannot fill in the gaps for your spouse.  You will constantly fail without Jesus.  We are all broken human people.  And that’s ok – God made us that way.  The purpose for that, once again, was so that we would lean on Him, in our personal lives, in our parenting, in our relationships – we need Jesus to complete us.  He is the only one who can.

I love this new song by Casting Crowns…Broken Together.  It talks about how if we each come together, admitting our brokenness, and approach Jesus, we can be made whole – TOGETHER.  Unfortunately that couldn’t happen in my marriage.  But my next relationship certainly will have a lasting foundation I can count on.  Because I am broken – and so will my next someone be.  And together with Jesus, we’ll be awesome!

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Love is Patient, Love is Kind…

How many times have we been to a wedding and heard this all too familiar passage? But the better question is, how many times did we actually listen to the words, absorb them, let them reach our brain, our heart?

After a few years of ugliness that I wouldn’t dare write about here, I have met someone who epitomizes this passage – really – and has stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that perhaps until now I never experienced love or even known how to truly love myself. I want to soak these words in, breathe them, comprehend them in my DNA so I can return this kind of love – not only as the example Jesus would have us give, but for my new special someone…who each day is helping me find the me that was lost under a mountain of rubble.

Love is patient: Patience is not just for your children. Patience is for everyone – the driver who cuts you off in traffic, the new cashier who’s checking you out when you are in a hurry, a mentally challenged person who needs a moment of your time…there are no parameters on who we are to be patient with and to what degree. If we are being loving, we are patient, period.

Love is kind: This one would seem fairly straight forward, but the number of times I encounter people in my day who have lost the art of human kindness makes my heart sad. A simple “Good Morning” in passing, holding the elevator door for someone you see approaching, allowing someone to go in front of you in line…simple gestures, split seconds of time, but all things that have such a huge impact in the day of someone who needs a little lift.

Love does not brag, boast or envy: This one can be a bit confusing. Basically, love cares more about the other person that itself. It doesn’t eat the last scoop of her favorite ice cream, but offers it to her, with chocolate syrup, without saying a word. It gives him the better pillow on the bed, then snuggles up close to share it with him.

Love is not easily angered, nor does it keep a record of wrong-doings: This might be the most difficult one for us as human beings. When we are hurt, we get angry…we’re human; it’s a biological reaction. But what we choose to do next only serves to compound the problem. We hang on to that anger…and we stew on it…and we let it fester…and we don’t discuss it with our loved one, until suddenly it’s a huge raw ugly area of pain that cannot be remedied with the best of care.

And ultimately when we do that, we hurt US…the ones who hold the anger. We drink more poison each day we hold that anger. And our hearts die a little bit more each day, along with our love. And we secretly distance ourselves from our loved one, without them even knowing it. And walls go up, and little things spark new arguments, and suddenly nothing is ‘done right’…a slow fade. And we throw out every tiny bad thing that ever happened since birth…and hurtful words are exchanged, things we’d never say in the light of love…but things we can’t ever take back. The damage is done.

Love does not celebrate injustice, but rejoices in the truth:
But what if instead, when our feelings were hurt, we spoke up in love? We told our partner what happened, trusting we could share our heart and not be hurt? What if we resolved feelings as they happened, instead of piling them up like dirty laundry in the corner? This is how true love is meant to function. Walking in truth, side by side, sharing the good and the bad. Being there…really being there for our love regardless of the cost to ourselves.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things: This line is supposed to be the post inspiring part…that no matter what life throws at us, we can count on our love. When we dare to dream big, love supports those dreams. When the bottom falls out, love holds us up when we cannot stand. When crisis strikes, love is the glue that holds us together. Love is the standard by which everything else is measured.

Love never fails: And here’s the most challenging part. Can we live up to that standard? Can we stand by one person, loving them, with the patience we should afford any stranger, with basic human kindness we would like bestowed upon us, caring always more about their needs than our own, forgiving the small hurts and being willing to quickly discuss the larger ones, staying when things are incredible high and equally devastatingly low? This is love…that we would give up ourselves for our partner. And never, ever stop…

Until recently, and except from my Heavenly Father, I have not seen this example displayed…ever. I have lived on this earth almost 46 years, and I have learned more about loving in the last few weeks that I have known my whole life.

I choose to be excited for the incredible relationship I get to partake in. I am humbled by the display of kindness and compassion, integrity and devotion lain out before me. I am happy and full of joy – a life I was meant to live.

For anyone digging out from their own rubble pile, I give you these word of hope:  You are worth more. Someone is digging toward you. Don’t stop hoping.

The Songs We Sing

I don’t know about you, but music is transforming for me. I can hear a song and be transported from my current mood or situation to a faraway place in an instant, leaving behind my languishing dismay, Debbie-Downer attitude or even crankiness ratcheted up to an 11. Music has that ability – to teleport our mind, body and soul – to a new awareness, a new start on the moment at hand…and I for one am grateful for the opportunity.

Sometimes, however, I find conflict in the music. Genres collide in a galactic missile launch, and our brains become confused on how our hearts should feel. Take, for example, two somewhat older ‘popular’ songs that have been ping-ponging like charged ions in my thoughts as of late: ‘D-I-V-O-R-C-E’ from the late great Tammy Wynette, and ‘I Am A C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N,’ the children’s classic. These two songs probably couldn’t be more opposite, but both carry a very prominant message that stands on its own merit. What if you personally enjoyed both songs? Would you be considered a hypocrite? Does one stand in direct and moral conflict of the other? And what if you have personally experienced both?

Such a discussion had never even entertained my mind until I had just that – experienced both situations. Being a Christian most of my life, I have an extremely strong moral compass by which I live. I know what I believe, and I know who I believe in. Being married for 22 years, and recently ending that marriage in divorce, I know how difficult a decision that was – ultimately for both of us. What I didn’t know, however, was how EVERYONE else would react. I didn’t know that my fellow Christians would become afraid to speak to me – as if divorce was contagious and could be passed on by just maintaining a relationship with me. I didn’t know that while losing my spouse was painful, losing my partner hurts the most. I didn’t know that time alone ALONE is the most lonely time of all. And I didn’t know that while I am a strong person – just as God made me – He brings you to your knees every time if need be to get your stinking attention, no matter how hard-headed you are.

So from my knees as I type, thought I’d hum my favorite tune for you all…goes like this:

 

Sometimes it feels like I’m watching from the outside

Sometimes it feels like I’m breathing but am I alive

I won’t keep searching for answers that aren’t here to find

All I know is I’m not home yet

This is not where I belong

Take this world and give me Jesus

This is not where I belong

So when the walls come falling down on me

And when I’m lost in the current of a raging sea

I have this blessed assurance holding me.

All I know is I’m not home yet

This is not where I belong

Take this world and give me Jesus

This is not where I belong

When the earth shakes I wanna be found in You

When the lights fade I wanna be found in You

All I know is I’m not home yet

This is not where I belong

Take this world and give me Jesus

This is not where I belong

[x2]

Where I belong, where I belong

Where I belong, where I belong

(‘Where I Belong’ – Building 429)