The fog is lifting.
I can see a few more feet ahead of me on this journey I've been on. My steps feel more sure. More natural. More...dare I say it? Normal. I've found a rhythm that fits our new life and things are good. The dark doesn't seem quite as penetrating. The ground isn't as unsteady. What lies just around the corner isn't nearly so menacing as it once seemed in all its mysterious unknowns.
No, things are not perfect. The circumstances I find us in are not what I wanted or ever would have chosen for us. Not at all. And yet, things are good. So very good.
Every now and then I start to sigh with relief that surely, surely, I've learned all there is to learn about divorce and navigating life as a single parent. Surely I've reached the end of some aspects of divorce. Right, God? My journal is full of documented lessons and summaries of some of the things I've come to understand.
And yet there are still so many lessons God has yet to teach me. One …
The following narrative is completely true and factual. I am imaginative, but could definitely not make this stuff up. For what it's worth, please enjoy a laugh at my expense as I tell you about my time on a business trip this week, otherwise known as my time in the seventh circle of hell.
My kids are out of town this week, visiting the happiest place on earth with their dad and future stepmom and stepsister. I planned ahead, thinking this would be a great time to do some needed business travel without impacting them and their expectations of lazy summer days where I'm available to do their bidding. I had two clinics due for an audit and a visit with the staff, so I made arrangements for traveling to Opelika and Prattville, both in south Alabama. And silly me, I even kind of imagined that once I concluded my business responsibilities in Opelika, I could enjoy an evening in a hotel room with no house to clean, no…
I'm told this picture was taken on the day I first smiled. Seems fitting that I'm looking into his eyes because he can still make me smile 38 years later.
Ray Smith is his name. He's my dad.
He isn't the life of the party. He doesn't command the attention of a room. He isn't wildly wealthy or always driving up in the latest amazing sports car. He doesn't care all that much about brand names or the applause of those around him. Upscale restaurants actually make him a little uncomfortable with all the doting attention of the servers. He's not interested in long, luxurious vacations, although as a retired man who has worked hard all his life, he'd certainly be entitled to just that by most folks' standards.
I've told you a few of the things this man does NOT care much about. So what does he care about? What drives him?
People. Plain and simple.
My father is a man who shows up when others do not. He's the…
So today is a special day. It's a day designed to express appreciation, love, and gratitude for all the ways special women in our lives have sacrificed for us. Mother's Day. Many of you will receive (or remember receiving) handmade cards, lopsided artwork, or a bouquet much like the one my 7-year-old presented me this afternoon:
And we will love it. After all, as I explained to my daughter yesterday afternoon, it's not about how expensive the gift is or what brand name is on it. It's about the fact that they thought about us. They put effort into expressing that they love us and are grateful for us. It's a great day. Except when it's not. Many of you know a heartache on Mother's Day that I can only imagine. And it's you whom I think of today. Oh, there are various reasons mothers feel the sting more acutely on this day designed to elevate us. Maybe it's because you are losing hope that you will ever be a mother. Maybe your children have long since gro…
Some days I feel the familiar sting more than others. But there's been progress. It's not debilitating like it used to be. It doesn't stop me in my tracks anymore or take my breath away like it did for so very long. It doesn't happen every day, and for that I'm grateful. Sometimes it's a good long while in between before the sting returns and I realize I've enjoyed a long run without it. But some days, the sting rears its ugly head and flares up in my heart again with no warning, no red flags, nothing to alert me that it's coming. And when it finds me, I've learned to respond differently than I once did. I've learned on those days to lean INTO it rather than try to resist it. I've learned to feel it fully instead of trying to rush past by finding ways to distract myself. But mostly, I've learned that this sting is not a bad thing. Now don't get me wrong, I sure don't enjoy it. None of us do. But it's okay. Because …
The other day a dear friend of mine said something that made me think.
Over the past year, this friend has experienced significant loss in her life. She has been forced to accept some long-term limitations, come to terms with some deep disappointment, and adjust her expectations in several areas. It's been a difficult year for her and has left some lasting scars.
We were talking about this recently and she said, "This is the first time in my life I've really suffered. It's the first time I've had to deal with heavy loss and accept things I cannot change."
Although I know that is only partly true (because all of us have suffered at one point or another to varying degrees. I could tell you about some other hard times in her life.), it was what she said next that caught my ear:
"And when facing my first real trial(s), I FAILED. I failed my Heavenly Father."
She looked down and tears welled up in her eyes as she felt the grief of disappointment in …