... Living inspired by the beauty of life, one post at a time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happily Ever After!

So I thought today would be a little hard, I've been expecting this day for awhile. Would I feel sad, a little despondent perhaps? I look at this girl in the picture and guess I feel a little reflective because I've learnt a lot. Today marks the day twenty five years ago, that I became this bride. I had dreamed of that day forever! Twenty five years of living and lessons have brought me to this very day. Twenty five amazing years spent raising the greatest two blessings any Mama Bear could wish for and I do count the blessings every day. That day was one of the happiest and best days of my life (Yes, even today) even though I'm now divorced (aahhh, hate that D-word!).

But here I am, all child-rearing done and dusted and empty-nesting beckoning. I married believing in the fairytale and living my happily ever after. The only thing is, happily ever after ended up looking so very different than I could have ever imagined. Hard years followed but so did happy memories. Happily ever after meant three instead of four. Happily ever after was a heart filled to bursting with little arms that enveloped you and hugs that encircled you. It was mornings of pure delight and butterfly kisses at night. Happily ever after was purpose through pain.

If you had told me then, on that day, that I would spend ten years building a crumbling marriage, then five years fighting to save it, and finally just trying to survive it, I wouldn't've believed you. Not then, not that day. That day I arrived at the chapel so expectant and full of dreams for the future. The pipe organs chimed out their glorious tune and they signalled everything I was hoping and believing for. I can still hear them today. I began the slow walk down the aisle to a new and brighter future, a future that involved two people committed and devoted to each other, a future that meant sailing off into the sunset and living happily ever after, right? ... Wrrroooong! And oh how wrong I was!

Wait a minute, hold it right there! How does that happen you ask? ... Or perhaps you are thinking, 'Where did it all go so wrong? ' These are the questions that plagued me too. Surely if two people love each other enough, anything is truly possible? Yep, that was the biggie! I struggled with this question over many long years.

Okay, so lets back up a bit. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. SO if I was to tell my twenty year old self a thing or two, I would tell her this, being in love and doing love are entirely different things. A profession of love, means nothing when it is not backed up by doing love, day in and day out. I was naïve. I thought love really would conquer the mountain. I thought a whole lot of love could fill an entire ocean of aching, hurting need. I would tell that twenty-year-old to look carefully at the current behaviour because it is a damn good predictor of the future. I would tell her that aching brokenness can only ever be found in the arms of a loving saviour. No amount of human loving can change a person, if they can't conquer the mountain with you.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time! 

So why didn't I believe it the first time? Because I thought love was enough. And the truth is love should be enough. But love, real love, is actually doing something, not just saying it. Love is gritty and raw. It is not pie in the sky. It is not just blue skies and summer breezes, although it is that too. It is blustery and time weathered. Love is summer and winter, the sun and the moon. Love is hot and cold. It is valleys and mountaintops.

'Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails'. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

That day, twenty five years ago, as these very words lifted up and out across family and friends gathered in the wooden pews, I didn't know that love would be lost or the path ahead of me would stretch me in impossible ways. That day I thought it would be us against the world. Love wasn't meant to fail. I didn't know that the world would snatch that love right away. Nope, I had no idea of the heartache that was before me, not an inkling of the turmoil that would arrive at my doorstep in those early years. I could NEVER have foreseen how quickly my world would tilt and go off kilter.

In those last, love-exhausting years I was drowning under the weight of a marriage falling apart, no matter how much loving was dished out. I didn't know that plain ole loving of this hard gritty kind could be so consuming and that it could carve out a big old hole in your heart and soul that felt like you were being dismantled piece by piece.

Surviving, not living!

Drowning, not waving!

And when you have done all the loving you can, what then? What do you do when love has lost her way? What do you do when love hurts?

You keep on loving, through it all and despite the pain. And when it falls apart, you pick yourself up and walk the path of love some more, all through a divorce of the gut-wrenching, messy kind, and all through the hard, lonely, single parenting years. You just learn to love on purpose. You practice it, day in, day out.

Because little eyes are watching and little hearts are learning.

But also because you have realised that love actually never fails. Love found you in the most unlikely of places. In the deepest darkest moments, a love so full and breathtaking wrapped you in sweet heavenly arms. Love was found when all was lost. A deep, never-ending, all encompassing spring of LIVING LOVE flooded over desolate terrain seeping into the deepest and darkest recesses. A love so real and tangible AND completely unquestionable was finally found. 

And so, a new way of loving was learnt.

Love is patient when facing mounting financial costs, love is kind in the face of lawyers, uncertainty and absent fatherhood. It does not envy successful marriages but rejoices with them, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour your children's  father even if it feels warranted and self justified (especially when little hearts are breaking and you are mad as hell that this is happening). It is not self-seeking but rather self-sacrificing, it is not easily angered when the rules are continually broken, it keeps no record of wrongs and forgiveness is given freely because little lives are being shaped ... and because it keeps your heart and soul uncluttered. 

Love does not delight in evil but seeks the truth, pursues the truth, embraces THE TRUTH. It always protects what you say about their father (because your children are still developing their identity and self-worth), and it looks for the best in everything and every circumstance - there is always a silver lining, somewhere! 

It always trusts that God has your back (and He does - He is always, always faithful), it always hopes for a better day, it always perseveres up the toughest mountain, even on the hardest and most trying of days under the most difficult of circumstances. There's always someone worse off than you. 

Because little eyes are watching and little hearts are learning.

Love really does triumph every time!
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