When I first left Liam's dad a year and a half ago, I did so because I was so hurt and lost that I didn't know who I was any longer. I needed space to find out. I needed room to heal and process my life. I needed enough quiet to hear the Lord. And I wanted to be the best version of me. Liam needed that just as much as I did. During this time, I read every book I could get my hands on that I thought might help me. I sought counseling. I joined a support group. I've been doing the work. And on my journey to heal my heart, I figured out a lot of stuff. I started believing the truth, realizing my worth, and letting the Lord show me those things. I sought safe connection with people that I can trust based on their behavior. I processed some deep deep hurts from my marriage and I began setting boundaries on others and on myself. These things did not happen overnight. And I'm confident I'll be on this journey for the rest of my life.... but y'all... that excites me! I GET to do this.
The last two months, I've found myself stumbling into situations and then conversations where I can share what I've learned. I can explain the importance of safe connection and boundaries. I can talk about trust and forgiveness and how those things are not one in the same. And from having been met right where I was/am with incredible empathy by some very significant people in my life, I realize the immense impact I have on others when I can do the same. When I find myself in these conversations, I get fired up! I'm excited to expose people to the things I've learned and the strength I've gained. I want to be vulnerable and disclose the hard stuff because "vulnerability begets vulnerability; courage is contagious" (Brene Brown). The isolation and the shame I carried for so long are no longer welcome in my life and I want that same freedom for others.
After countless opportunities to share what I'm learning and share my story over the last two months, it hit me. I was driving home from an out of town graduation yesterday where I again had the chance to share some tools I've acquired when I realized that the storm has quieted. I have come out on the other side of the hurricane. I think I got really accustomed to what the storm felt like. I got used to buckling down and hanging on during the crazy. Chaos. Uncertainty. I don't know what I thought it would be like when I no longer felt like the storm was sucking all the air from the room. A big "FINALLY" moment, I guess. Maybe I assumed my heart would be healed once the doctor removed the staples... I don't know what I thought would be my indicator that I was no longer in crisis mode or self preservation status. A clean bill of health note from a therapist? Whatever I was waiting on... I was wrong. Its so gradual that I didn't even notice the progress until it looked back at me in my rear view mirror.
I did not seek out a single one of the opportunities I've taken lately to connect with someone and share what I'm learning. But it keeps happening. And I find myself thankful for the opportunities. I'm not naive enough to think that I'll never struggle again with the things I've been working through. I understand that as my life moves forward, I'll have to deal with various pieces of my broken marriage and the lacerations to my heart again and again in different situations. But the STORM has passed. I'm no longer holding tight the cellar door so that the tornado doesn't drag me away. It'll still rain now and again. That's "normal".... but I'm no longer paralyzed by the storm or its destruction. I'm also not naive enough to think that I'm "healed" and that my work on me is finished. It is hard work rewiring myelf and growing healthy relationships. It is no easy task removing from my life the people that steam roll my boundaries and mistreat me. And looking introspectively at my flaws and the bad coping skills I accumulated throughout life and working to change those - that sucks. But the rewards have been so worth it.
In bible studies for as long as I can remember, I've heard of the story of the father who every night at bedtime asks his daughter to give him her pearls (her most favorite possession). Every night she would cry and tell him she just couldn't. She loved them too much to give them up. One night when her father asked her again for her pearls, she took a deep breath and said yes, she loved him and trusted him enough to give her most prize possession to him. He graciously took them and explained to her that he'd been waiting for her to let go of those fake pearls because he had real ones to give her instead. The lesson being, sometimes we get so caught up in knowing ourselves and what is best for us that we miss out on the blessing God is trying to give us because we aren't letting Him drive. During my journey this last year and a half, I have been working on giving up pearls. Unlike the little girl, I think I've been giving them up one pearl at a time as opposed to the entire strand at once. Its been so hard. But I realized yesterday that that is what I'm doing. And God is giving me little glimpses of what He has for me. His promises. Y'all... that makes me want to rip off this fake necklace and hand it over! It makes me want to do the same for you! And yet, the Lord is so patient to wait for me. I cannot wait to continue this process of growing me into the best version of me, for the Lord, for myself and for my son. And I love how the Lord is dropping opportunities for me to share (and remind myself) of each fake pearl I've given to Him in complete trust that He has something so much better for me. The lacerations to my heart aren't so raw and wide open anymore. They are scars that are beautiful and lesson filled and sometimes tender. So while I work on whatever pearls I have left to hand over to the Lord, I am doing so with joyful anticipation of what the Lord has for me next. The storm is over.