life among the middle parts

it was a two-minute conversation with an innocent five-year old that got me thinking.
“miss elena, are you a mom?”
“nope; i’m just your teacher.”
“but you don’t have kids? are you even married?
“no, i’m not married either.”
(long pause; i could see the wheels turning as this little one tried to process what i’d just said.)
“well, i think you should just get married. and then you can be a mom.”

yeah, kid; join the club.

because a lot of people think that, really; i get it all the time. “you’re so sweet/loving/smart/beautiful.” “it’s only a matter of time until the right guy comes along.” “you are going to be such a great mother one day.” which is all well and good, and thankyouverymuch, sincerely. except what if maybe that’s not going to be my story? 

because let’s be real here. right now, today, my story looks like this: i’m 30. i’m divorced. i’m childless. i’m nowhere near financially secure. i don’t have a retirement plan; heck, i don’t even have a five-year plan. i spend my life being split between two countries and, as a result, i have no idea where i even fit anymore. i struggle with depression and ptsd, and some days i feel on top of the world, and other days i just shut down because i can’t. even. deal, y’all. i spend a lot of time feeling like i’m simply stumbling through this whole life thing, and i have no clue what i’m doing but maybe i might be able to figure it out eventually. these days seem messy, unraveled; it feels like i’m coming apart at the seams, spilling out and spilling over, and i think how in the world did i get here?; how did this, all this, become my story?

Image[Photo by Aaron Escobar, Creative Commons]

but here’s what i know: this, all this, it matters. every single moment of it. even the parts i sometimes wish i could skip over, the parts i want to hide away from the rest of the world. my story matters. and so does yours. and there is life–and life abundant–that springs forth from amongst the middle parts.

i think we so often have grandiose ideas about what our lives should look like. and we hold on to those plans much too tightly, balling them in our fists while we close ourselves off to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, God might be doing a new thing. we have our plans and our timelines, our dreams and our desires, and we clutch them close, so close, terrified that we might be asked to lay them down. the letting go is scary, to be sure, but the promise of something new and better is more than worth it.

and the middle part, where maybe you’re stumbling around as i am, unsure where this is all headed? it’s really not so bad. there are sweet gifts even in this in-between place; you just have to know where to look for them.

(true confession: this post originally began as a tongue-in-cheek rant against valentine’s day and all the well-meaning people who have attempted to console me over the years with “it’s okay, honey; Jesus is your husband.” like, NOJesus is simply enough. but maybe i’ll save that post for another day…)

#SheRises on SheLoves

recently, i was introduced to SheLoves, an online community of women raising their voices, sharing their stories, and showing the world God’s heart through their words.

today, my post entitled RISE: Get Up Off the Floor is published on their site, as part of their October theme, RISE. at first, i’ll admit it: i was a bit hesitant to be so openly transparent with this part of me online. but one thing i have learned is that when we are brave with our stories, it gives others the courage to be brave with theirs.

so give it a read, leave some feedback, and share it with others. and here’s to being brave with every part of our beautiful stories–the good as well as the bad, the happy as well as the sad. all of it, every little piece, matters.

the wedding song

back then,
we were young
and life was so simple,
even when i tried to make it hard.

(i guess i didn’t want easy,
didn’t think i deserved something 
that i didn’t have to work for.)

we didn’t have much,
and we didn’t really know much
in the ways of honesty
and commitment,
and what it actually meant when we promised ‘till death do us part.

like i said,
we were young.
we tried to play our grownup roles,
but the shoes were too big to fit us,
and we got lost in our costumes
that neither of us knew how to wear.

looking back,
i think we understood this;
in fact, i know we did.
it’s probably the reason i retreated.
i’m sure it’s the reason you cheated.

and so, when the breakdown
i wanted to blame you.
my screams
and every tear i cried,
the silence,
the outbursts—
they all were one pointed, accusing finger
aimed directly towards you.
it was you that was constructively
tearing apart
what we both knew had been broken
for a long, long time.

in the aftermath,
when Freedom found me
and held my hand as i surveyed the ruins
and assessed the damage,
i finally decided to stop fighting,
to not try and wake the dead,
to leave “us” buried in the dust
and ashes
and all of our sad, broken pieces.

it was then 
that i realized
i really had been in love once.
you and i, old friend,
i see that we did 
love each other—

the best we could, anyway;
the only way we knew how.

and so i vowed that i would
this life of mine, now filled
with all things new.
(i will not make the same mistake twice)

‘till death do us part.