Choose Joy

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As I’m approaching my 30th birthday I want to release something on my heart. I’ve been back and forth about posting this…but I really want to build on it…so here we go…

I’m not sure you can come back from certain mistakes. When a certain level of trust is breached, I don’t know that the trust will ever be the same. I guess some of that depends on how sorry the breacher is and how forgiving the breached is. After my husband cheated on me, he told me he wanted to do whatever it took to make things right. He told me he would quit football. He wanted it to seem like he would give up the thing that meant the most to him so he could make things right with me. He knew I would never make him quit. I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to do what he loved. I loved him too much to ask him to quit his dream. Now I wish I would’ve tested him. Instead I asked him to do one simple thing. I asked him to pursue me everyday. I wanted to know that I was his number 1. I needed this more than anything else. I know my husband was out of our marriage…he wouldn’t even do that. He would make up excuses for not writing me a little note or doing this or that saying he forgot or didn’t have time. I would make excuses for him in my mind. It is hard to face the reality when you know in your heart that the person you love…the person you committed your whole life to…no longer loves you back. You want to do whatever you can to make them feel the way they once did. But the truth is you can’t make someone love you. And really…why would you want to?

I think one of the deepest desires we have as humans is to be known; to have every nook and cranny known by another human and to still be loved unconditionally. To be loved through all our quirks and ridiculousness…I think that is heaven on earth. Going through every obstacle and every stupid fight with someone that you know has your back and coming out stronger…that is priceless. It is a gift that cannot be bought. It is the merging of two hearts after one goal: to make it work. If there is something worth having in life I think it is this. True love.

I know that I have not truly experienced this kind of love. I thought I had it. I thought he felt the same way that I felt for him. But that is obviously not the case. My heart is a fighter and does not give up. My heart sees an obstacle and finds a way to jump over, crawl under, break through…whatever it takes. My heart is loyal and loves without conditions. I love deep and wide and with as much forgiveness as I can humanly muster. Cheating on someone…I think that is just about the worst thing you can do. It is the ultimate deception. Maybe one day I will be able to put into words this twisted emptiness I get in my stomach when I think about the moment that I found out. I can still feel the emotions when I put myself there in that moment. They are vivid; they are sharp. No one deserves to be cheated on. No one.

Can forgiveness overcome a trust that has been breached? Can it fill the gap and mend what has been broken? I wish I could say yes with confidence. But I do not know from experience. I am a strong believer that relationships can literally make you crazy. I know I went to crazy and back a few times. A lack of trust will drive you mad. When the trust is weak, paranoia creeps in. Your mind goes to all sorts of places and you become an unbalanced basket case thinking of every scenario that could be happening. My husband was sneaking around on me in between classes while I was at work. While I was making ends meet so he could chase his dreams, he was chasing another girl.

I remember the day that I read the text messages that he hadn’t deleted. I felt every single beat of my heart as it threatened to jump out of my chest. My breathing began to take off uncontrollably as if I was having an asthma attack. My body burned. My eyes poured out acid and my brain became nothing. The feeling of intense anger and sadness at the same time is interesting. It is like being hard and soft simultaneously.

I know God was with me that night. Somehow through the pain I was able to confront my husband with this eerie calmness; this unearthly composure. We always talk about what we would do in certain circumstances but I think we would surprise ourselves 9 out of 10 times. I always said I would leave someone if they cheated on me. I loved him so much and I couldn’t picture my life without him. I had heard stories of marriages working after something like this. So I decided to stay by his side and fight the good fight. I thought one day things would be the way they once were. I thought everything could be healed and fully restored.

I remember people would tell him how great he was and how faithful he was to his wife…I would have to leave conversations because it was too much for me to take. He would smile and take the compliments. It was all a front. I remember talking to one of the few people that knew what happened…I asked her, “What if I’m interviewed one day? What if someone point blank asks me if he has ever cheated on me? What do I say?” I’ve always tried to be a woman of integrity. I like to live in the light; in the sunshine. If it is nighttime then I like to focus on the stars and the light produced by the moon. I had to live in the darkness to stand by the one I loved. I had to act as if life was better than it was. I wasn’t healing…I was just brushing it all under the rug where it was dark. I was convincing myself that life was better than it was.

We would go to weddings and I would pray for the couple…I would pray they would never have to go through what we went through…what I went through. Sometimes I would have to hold back the tears as the couples would say their vows…not because I was overwhelmed with excitement and love…but because I would remember the vows we made…and how they were just words that made you think, “Awwwww…they are so in love.” They are just words unless you act them out; unless you believe and actually feel that way in your heart. Love is a choice. Everyday it is a choice. Trust is a living organism in a relationship. When the trust is gone…you have nothing. It must be constantly watered and maintained.

I’ve grown past all of this. It is a factual occurrence of my past that has shaped who I am today. I share all of this because I want to be a beacon of strength…of hope. I’m not afraid to share my life and lessons learned with others. If I can help one person through a rough time…if I can encourage, invoke strength and promote hope then I would say it’s all worth it. Even after all I’ve been through I still believe in love. I have abounding hope in this true love; the kind I see written about in songs and I can visualize in books. The kind I feel in my heart and shed a tear or two for when watching certain movies. The kind I’ve seen my whole life with my own eyes; the true love my parents share. Hope is not something to be lost in any area. Satan would love for me to lose hope. He will build on any loss. He will dig and plant and begin to grow. He will multiply like noxious weeds and at some point he will consume. He will contaminate the spring in your heart; the source of your being; the mirror in which you reflect.

I remember one day I told my co-worker, after a few failed attempts with meeting new guys, “I give up.” I was mostly joking with her but in all seriousness she said that someone close to her was like me and then gave up and she’s never been the same. She looked at me and said never give up. I took it to heart and I keep it there. There is always hope. I know this because there is always Heaven and there is always God. There is always a promise. I choose joy. I choose life. And I choose to overcome.

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