Be Gracious to Yourself Part 1

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April 19, 2015- “I look at my watch and it is 1:01 in the afternoon. A part of me is a little frustrated I didn’t get up one of the other times I had woken up this morning. But I have learned in this season I need to give myself buckets and buckets of grace. Divorce can be one self-destructive monster. You wonder why you were not good enough. You scan yourself with a magnifying glass. You meticulously examine your character, your personality, your quirks, your morality, your looks, and really just every part about you. Even though I have strolled down this avenue quite a bit the past 6 months, I know the reason my husband left is not because of me. Yes he was unhappy, but he no longer wanted to be married.  He wanted the single life. He wanted this new life by himself. He didn’t want all of the things we had dreamt together about our future. He had his own dreams of what he would do in his new position in life. Is it fair? No. Divorce is not fair. I guess it is only fair if both sides agree that they should divorce. But even then…a covenant was made before God. Divorce is not fair.

I don’t sleep a whole lot. I get to bed at about 1-2 am and wake up at 6:15 to start my job. I usually go back to sleep for a few hours after that…but my sleep is so broken up. Sleep today was important. My life is about to get really busy and the stresses of this divorce are about to unleash full force. I know God is preparing me for these stresses and telling me to cast all my worries on Him. He has made that very clear to me.

I know I need to be going through our things. The weekend is the best opportunity for that. I haven’t done any of that this weekend. I seem to be putting it off for some reason. I’m ready to move on. I have a new place lined up. I’m not sure what keeps me from just getting after it. I guess it is just another step towards the end. Who really wants to rush to the end?”

Divorce was embarrassing. And oh was it humbling. I remember there were a few people I had met that had been divorced and I had thought, “why couldn’t they keep it together? I mean they were involved in the marriage so didn’t they have control over the outcome?”

It didn’t make sense to me until I was in the situation myself. It takes two people to get married and be married but it only takes one to get divorced.

After my husband left, I immediately internalized everything. I thought it was my fault. I would ask myself, “what could I have done to make him stay? Surely I missed something…what is so terrible about me that he would want to leave my presence forever?”

I was ashamed. I would recall certain memories such as when the pastor who married us said he didn’t just marry anyone…he only married couples who were going to last and weren’t going to get divorced.

I thought I let my parents down. That I messed up. I was supposed to be the one that had my life together.

I felt so ashamed of myself before God.

I remember the first time I read this scripture in college…Luke 18:9-14- To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I told God I wanted to be the tax collector. I wanted to be the one whose debt was greater. But yet by the way I was living my life I was not reflecting this humble heart.

I was so careful, so cautious growing up. I heavily weighed almost all of my decisions. I made lists and lived by rules that would keep the vices away. I didn’t want anything to have a hold on my life. I controlled my life. I was in control of my destiny.

Because of these principles, I had a tendency to live pretty self-righteous. I expected those closest to me to live by my standards as well. I did not practice grace. My heart did not know what it was that I was truly asking for when I asked God to be the one whose debt was greater.

May 5, 2015- “I’ve had a rough couple of days. I’ve been way too emotional. I hate when I’m like this. Today at church it was very hard for me. This was the first time I went to church without my rings on. This is the last place I want to be without my rings. I felt so apologetic to God. Sorry that it couldn’t be worked out. I know it’s not my fault…I did what I could…but I was involved…it is hard to think there isn’t something that you could’ve done to fix it. I thought about how my husband used to grab my hand during prayer. We were one. He did this even up until the last church service we attended together.

I found myself mopping up my eyes trying to keep the tears from flowing.  During worship I would have to stop singing because my mop was full.  I’m not much for crying…and I’m really not much for crying in front of strangers.  I was cheering myself on…come on Amy…don’t cry!  You can do it!  Or not do it rather…but the images were too real; the weight was so heavy. 

During communion I prayed.  I told God how much of a struggle it is for me.  It’s a struggle for me to take the high road; to let the injustice go; to keep my heart soft.  I told Him I can’t do this on my own.  I asked Him to continue to put people on my path to keep me on the straight and narrow.  I’m not afraid to be honest with myself and everyone else.  I know I cannot do this alone.  I’ve been so overwhelmed with bad feelings lately.  If I didn’t have the support I have I would not be able to carry out the task God has put before me.  He knows this.  He knows in my heart I want to do the right thing.  I want to do His will.  He can search my entire heart and know this is what I want to do.  My flesh gets in the way; jealousy, envy, feelings of injustice, selfishness, all sorts of ugly things.”

I remember one car ride to my parents’ house. My spirit was so crushed. I was sorting through all of my shortcomings and trying to determine which was the greatest. Which was THE reason things did not work. With tears in my eyes I asked God, “why didn’t this work? Tell me the one thing that made this not work?” Very quickly I received an overwhelming answer in my spirit…”There is nothing; this could have worked. It was his free will.” Grace immediately washed over me. This answer was huge for me. I was really able to move past my destructive internalizations and my self-image began to heal. I accepted this grace and no longer dwelled on my shortcomings. His grace is enough. And His forgiveness is everything.

Divorce was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. I say this only because I was humbled. I learned what grace truly meant. Having accepted this grace and these new humble lenses, I have become more approachable and I seek more to understand. I am constantly reminded that we really do not know what others are going through.

Grace reminds me of water. I think of peace and tranquility. But really it’s more like white water rapids followed by a gentle stream. There is an action that requires grace and it usually will take you for a ride. But in the end, if you accept the grace you will be in for a nice smooth peaceful ride to your next adventure.

I wanted nothing more than to save my marriage. It is so interesting how sometimes the things we want the most end up being the worst things for us. I know if I would’ve stayed in that marriage I would’ve been the worst me. I find myself thanking God for not answering my prayers!

May 5, 2015- “I am honest with myself and in turn honest with other people. I am myself everywhere I go. I do not care what people think of me. I make my own decisions and live by my own convictions. I was so afraid to be all of myself for the past few years…I just want to be comfortable in my skin. Not be afraid. 

I looked at a picture of myself today. It was the first time in a long time that I looked at the picture and said, ‘Amy, you are beautiful.’ I find beauty not so much in outward appearance but in who a person is. I like who God is molding me into. I like letting go. I like not fearing. I like the way my future is looking.”

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