God is good, all the time.

Father has pursued me lately, and I like it!

I have been so, so, so very sad lately over a tough breakup, and Father has gone out of his way to make sure I know I am loved.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending 72 hours with my best girlfriends on earth – friends who have been in my life for more than 12 years and still love me!  They loved me really hard last weekend.  A wonderful reminder that I don’t break every relationship I touch.

This weekend, Father brought a new friend into my life.  I’m looking forward to experiencing what else He has in store for me.

I love you back, Dad.

Pain and Anonymity

Some people who write about alcoholism, codependency, and recovery choose to keep anonymous blogs.  I’m realizing there is wisdom in that, and I should have considered it more seriously when I started this blog in January.

During that time, my thought was that transparency is a good thing.  The more honest I am about my sins and my struggles, the more light is cast there.  The more helpful my experiences will be to others who read.  The more Father triumphs over Satan in my mundane, day-to-day struggles.

I still believe this.  But here’s the snag.  Codependency is like alcoholism in many ways, but is unlike alcoholism in a very important way:  it’s a dependence on control and an addiction to people, not a substance.  As a result, when I am writing about my struggles, I end up referring to other people.  People who may read my blog.  People whose friends and family may read my blog.  No matter how obliquely I refer to people, I often wonder whether I’ve said too much.  Whether I’ve been hurtful to a person or fanned the flames of any conflict that is happening.

In fact, sometimes I don’t even have to wonder.   Sometimes, I know I shouldn’t have posted what I post about other people.

Father has prodded me to think harder about this, to open myself up to changing in this area, and to make amends where I’m aware I need to.  Yet I have sinfully been trying to ignore this prodding.

I still have a lot of thinking and praying to do on this issue.  I’m not sure whether I need to simply be more careful, wait 24 hours after writing before posting, stop blogging altogether, begin blogging somewhere else, anonymously, or some other adjustment.  In the meantime, I have unpublished two recent posts that I, without a doubt, should never have published in the first place.  I owe the thinly-veiled subject of those posts an apology, and will do so in person when I have an opportunity to do so.

There may be other things I’ve said here that I should unpublish.  There may be other actions I need to take.  I’m hurting, I’m angry, I’m broken, and no matter how much my mind knows I can trust Father to get me through this, my flesh wants to take over, control this, and do something–anything–to stop the pain.  Because of this, I have made several terrible, hurtful choices over the past few weeks.

My constant prayer of late has been for my pain to go away.  I still can’t help but pray that, but now my prayer is also that I will get better and better at surrendering everything to Father, even my pain.

Aging well

I will turn 40 next month.  I don’t know why I’ve been so introspective about this.  After all, I’ve not given other “milestone” birthdays much thought.

I gave birth to my second son twelve days before my 30th birthday.  Caught up in the all-consuming days that were motherhood to a toddler and a newborn, and living with a husband who did not generally give gifts, I am not sure I even noticed my birthday pass.

On my 21st birthday, I was newly divorced, living in a crappy, roach-infested walk-up in Circleville, Ohio, working 8-5 as a receptionist for a plastics factory, and working many nights 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Burger King.  I had no friends in that town, and very few friends, period, as I was in transition from married life to single life, from school at a small-town branch campus to school at the massive Ohio State University, and I honestly worked too much that summer to even consider making a friend.  No one took me out to a bar on my 21st birthday, and I honestly don’t remember the day at all.

The day I turned 18, I packed all my belongings into my boyfriend’s Ford Escort and left my parents’ house while they were at work, walking away from a tuition and room/board scholarship at Capital University, and walking away from my parents and my sisters, ages 15 and 4, whom I would not see for the next two years.  I didn’t know that I was headed for a two-year marriage characterized by abuse, infidelity, and poverty.

None of those birthdays register clearly in my memory, yet as 40 looms closer I ponder.  It feels like a new stage in my life.  It feels like a transition.  A turning point.  A clean slate.

The thing all those birthdays have in common is chaos, the kind of chaos that goes hand-in-hand with codependency.  When I left home at 18, I was ill-equipped to deal with living life, loving people, and chasing Father.  I did not have life skills; instead, I had coping skills – ways to cope with the chaos that living in dysfunction brings.  For years, my adulthood was characterized by chaos, because when there was no chaos, my coping skills were not necessary.  Unwittingly, I created familiar chaos in every situation I encountered.

As my 40th birthday approaches, I can say with certainty that my life is characterized by the opposite of chaos.

My serenity has nothing to do with the circumstances in my life.  Full credit goes to my Father in heaven, who lavishes unmerited favor upon me despite my emotional brokenness, and to the program which is Al-anon.

As a matter of fact my circumstances, at the time of this writing, are not making me happy.  Someone I love very much is not in my life now, and though he is in poor health, I can be neither a comfort nor a help.  I miss him acutely every single day.  Many plans I had for the summer must be altered to exclude him.  Furthermore, I will be attending a family reunion this weekend, and being with my family of origin is always a stressful time for me.  Finally, my children will be spending the next 3 1/2 weeks a state away, visiting their father, and I have the strong, conflicting feelings of both needing the break and dreading it.

No, my circumstances are not all rainbows and unicorns.  Serenity is not synonymous with happiness.  The difference for me, at 40, is that I am no longer subconsciously manufacturing circumstances that damage my serenity.  I am not looking to create chaos or magnify the chaos that already exists.  Serenity flows not from circumstance, but from knowing that my Father is with me despite external circumstances, and from knowing that I can trust him with the things I cannot control.

My friend played her guitar and sang a song for me the other night, and I cried while she sang, because the song’s lyrics reminded me that 40 is coming quickly, and it does not look like I had planned for it to look.  Now, I am choosing to listen to it and instead, allow it to remind me that, as always, Father’s plans for me will turn out better than my own…even when I cannot comprehend how this can be so.