Life has a way of surprising us, doesn’t it?
Six months ago I was minding my own business when WHAM! Something sudden and awful destroyed my marriage. The what, who, hows and whys are something to explore on another day, but suffice it to say, I was shattered. After a decade of (what I thought was) wedded bliss, and almost 14 years of intimate friendship, the man of my dreams descended on a very different, and dark, path. It was the middle of summer, the city was exploding with life, energy, and happiness, and I lay on the floor of my living room sobbing as he walked out the door. I was suddenly single. What’s more, I was suddenly a single mom.
The build up to that moment was three months in the making. I was preparing my heart and soul for what seemed inevitable. The break up to end all break ups. No one expected this. Not even me. And perhaps being caught off guard was in itself a blessing. I was the best wife and friend I could be, and everything seemed peachy keen, so this sudden turn was a complete surprise, but I had a clean conscience, knowing I had truly always offered the best of myself.
But breakups are never easy.
When you spend so much of your life living, loving, and growing with someone, only to find that they were not the person you thought them to be, it is devastating. And what’s worse are the endless questions that build up in your brain. You wonder, “Was it me? Did I do the wrong thing? Get the wrong hair cut? Was I not affectionate enough? Had I made the wrong comment?” But in this kind of scenario, you quickly realize, it’s not about you. It’s about someone else being deeply troubled and lost. You realize that, in God’s grace (yes, grace!), you’ve been given a life raft by being left behind. You were rescued from a sinking ship.
The selfie above was taken the morning after everything came to light. I love this photo because, despite receiving the worst possible news of my life, there’s hope on my face. There’s resolve in my eyes. There’s a God-given peace in my soul. I come back to this picture whenever I’m starting to doubt or feel discouraged so I can remember the strength God gave me in that moment. The promise that, as long as I stand firm by His side, I can move mountains, so surely I could get through this.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
So as I lay there on the living room floor on that sunny Saturday afternoon, listening to his footsteps fade away, I asked God, “What now? Where does my life go from here?” And God had an answer. He said (and when I say “said” I’m not talking voices here), “You are the daughter of a King. You lift yourself up, you shake yourself off, and you let me take things from here.”
And that’s exactly what I did.
In these three short months of being a single mom I’ve grown more than in any other season of my life.
I’ve learned to take each step slowly, being sensitive to God’s leading. I’ve learned to say “yes” to Him when all I really wanted to do was say “no” to everything. I’ve learned what it truly means to “be still,” to rest, and to abide. I’ve learned to ask for help – perhaps the toughest challenge of all – and to accept it when offered. I’ve learned to let people love me, lift me up, and support me when I had barely any strength left. I’ve learned how to be at peace and how to love deeper than ever before. I’ve learned to empathize on a whole new level. I’ve learned to hold my thoughts captive, release pent up emotions, and then breathe it all out to God. I’ve learned how to be patient. I’ve learned the true meaning of joy. Yes, joy! From what seems to be the darkest of all places, I have learned to dance and sing and laugh and giggle. I’ve learned to really pour myself out when I serve. I have learned to do the day to day tasks on my own. And I’ve learned that doing them alone isn’t quite as bad as I’d thought it would be. I’ve learned how to be who I want to be, without guise or guile. And, most importantly, I’ve learned that I still have SO MUCH to learn!
Three months. 12 weeks. 90 days.
It’s not really that long at all when you think about it, and yet, so much has changed. And that’s exactly why I’m writing this post. I want to be open and document what it’s like to go through the process of becoming a single mom overnight, in case it helps someone else face their fears. In the event it can inspire someone to be bold, to be honest, about what they’re going through. To encourage someone to embrace God, family, and friends, during times of trial instead of running towards solitude. To remind someone that they’re not the only one facing this.
And so it begins – my new “Suddenly Single” series where I hope to share the (mostly) good and (sometimes) bad sides of what it’s like to be a single thirty-something mama living in the city. I hope you choose to join me in this strange and (hopefully!) uplifting journey!