Trying Too Hard and Still Disappointing EVERYBODY

I’ve been feeling better lately. I’m laughing more. I’m not stewing as much. My sadness is lifting and my anxiety isn’t my constant companion. I’ve knocked my medication down to its lowest dose.  It finally feels like Spring – in Illinois and in my heart – and I’m so very grateful.

However… I still have my moments of irritability and anxiety, to be sure. In fact, my husband and I even have put language to it. When I’m feeling stressed, I’ll tell Richard what number I am from one to ten. When I say, I’m at a 10, he knows it’s not good (and that he might want to duck and cover).  Those 10s are fewer and farther between these days but I’ve been experiencing a new flavor this year that I’ve finally been able to label.

It’s what I’m calling blended fam-xiety. I get this feeling before a family gathering, when I’m trying to plan a weekend when we’ll have any combination of our kiddos home with us, when I’m mentally lining up all of our kids and their significant others in our living room each morning and praying for them out loud by name, when I’m thinking through the ways I’ve hurt my husband and our kids lately, all that good stuff.

I recently heard that life is not a problem to solve.

Seriously? Because I’ve spent the entirety of my life trying to fix my life. And I’ve especially spent the last year doing that with all our ups and downs and chaos and pain and transition and change and adjustments.

Okay, so it’s like this. Imagine me sitting down at my coffee table, and I have just dumped out a 1000-piece puzzle. And I am […]

It’s Not All about Me

I am self-centered and self-absorbed and self-focused. This is not an intentional thing. This is just how I sometimes live and see the world.

There has been an issue in my life for a little while now that is messy and it sort of has to do with me but it really has to do with a few other people. I’m for sure on the fringes. But, being a girl, and a self-absorbed one at that, I don’t always feel on the fringes. This little ordeal can feel like it’s about me.  And I have spent a lot of time thinking about how it has affected me and hurt me and wah-wah-wah.

And so, for the most part, I have been responding to new updates along the way as if I were a key player. And, if I may be honest, that hasn’t been working well for me.

Until recently, when I tried something different. When I heard the news that I have heard a hundred times, instead of feeling swirly panic, insecure and sick to my stomach, looking only inward, and inadvertently causing a rift, I did this.

I asked my friend how this new development made them feel.  In other words, I actually thought about someone other than me for fifteen seconds.  And I listened.  And I didn’t say much other than to agree it would be difficult.

And then I prayed for my friend and the other key players, outloud, even though it was hard and uncomfortable. Even though I’ve been hurt along the way.

And then you know what I did? I said to my friend, “Well, other than praying, we can’t do much about this tonight, can we?” And my friend agreed. So we went […]

Stop Hoping for Happiness & Chasing after In-Love-ness

I hear something like this a few times a week:

“You give me hope that there’s so much more beyond the pain and sadness.”

These women are almost all referring to the fact that I was once in a difficult marriage and then I went through a difficult divorce and I have since fallen in love and have married a very, very good, kind, sweet man.

And I appreciate the well wishes, I truly do. Especially seeing as my tagline is ‘helping hurting women by bringing them hope’. I want to be a hope-dispenser, a hope-amplifier.

I want every woman to have hope, absolutely. Hope is a gorgeous thing. Hope keeps us going when nothing else will.

But, in case I haven’t been clear over the years, my life has not been one huge hard season followed by grieving and healing and then now a life of skipping through wildflowers with a cute man and a huge grin on my face.

Umm, no.

My life – every single day – has had pain and has had joy. Just like yours.

(Hard marriage, no marriage, good marriage….pain and joy.)

There is not a destination where the pain and sadness come to an end. Okay, well, there is, but that’s called Heaven. That’s called when we’re finally with Jesus face-to-face.  But that’s not a destination here and now on this earth as things are.

So, yes, please, please, please have hope.

Yes, please, please, please know that you will not always feel the way that you feel today in your difficult marriage or in your divorce.

Yes, you can become more whole.
Yes, you will heal.
Yes, you more than likely experience happy moments.
And perhaps, you may fall in love with a good man.

But being happy just isn’t the […]

Is My Husband Untrustworthy or am I Just Untrusting?

I feel like I have been hearing more stories lately than I can count of a husband hurting a wife. (I know, I know, it goes both ways; but the majority of my experience is working with women, so…) I have heard too many tales of lies and hidden things and inappropriateness and infidelity.  It makes my stomach turn.

And I’ve heard women recount how their husbands would try to make them feel badly about not trusting them, or would try to turn things around on them, or would try to rush them through the grieving and healing process and expect them to trust them again sooner than they were ready to, or sooner than was even healthy because they were trying to get around the actual hard emotional steps of rebuilding trust (which are, basically, doing anything and everything your wife needs you to do to make it up to her, for basically as long as she needs you to…seriously, I’m not kidding).

Having an untrustworthy spouse and being an untrusting person can feel the same to you and can look the same to your partner, but there is a difference, a huge difference.

Let me be super clear, in case you’re being snowed: if your husband has lied to you, if your husband has hidden things from you, if your husband has been inappropriate with another woman, if your husband has been unfaithful to you, if he has kept any or all of the above from you, he has unfortunately shown himself to be untrustworthy, and you therefore, I’m very sad to say, have reason not to trust him, bottomline.

(Sidenote: I do not believe, per Rachel Greene from Friends, that, “Once a cheater, always a […]

I am Not Your Holy Spirit

I have two equally-weighted fears when it comes to my ministry.

One is that there is a woman out there who I don’t reach, and she languishes physically or emotionally or spiritually when she doesn’t have to, either in her difficult marriage or in her divorce or as a single mom. That she could be taking steps to protect herself and her children and her heart, that she could be moving forward into a peace, into a wholeness, despite her circumstances, but because no one has told her that she can, she doesn’t. This breaks my heart. (Because I was that girl for a very, very long time.)

There is little I can do about this one except continue to pray that God will get my message into the hands of the women who are in need of some grace and hope and resources and compassion; to ask that if you’ve benefitted from my work, that you pass along this hope to any friends who are struggling under the weight of life’s hard, hard circumstances.

But other than that, I absolutely must trust that God will lead the way on this, that he will ‘expand my borders’ as he sees fit.

But my other fear – on the completely other side of the spectrum, and it terrifies me – is that at the end of my life when I’m standing before my Maker, God says to me:

“Look over there…see all those women? They left their husbands because of you… and I’m not okay with it. What were you thinking??”

Now, before you balk and say that no one would ever leave their marriage because of something I’ve done or not done or said or not said, this is not […]

The Sweetest Man on Earth

Most of the emails I receive from women say that their husbands abuse them or are unfaithful or are alcoholics or have left them. And their lives are a mess. And they need help. And I do the best I can to offer what I’ve got…some encouragement, some tips, some resources, some support, tons of compassion and empathy, always lots of hope.

But then, I occasionally get an email like this:

“I have been married for five years to the sweetest man on earth but he is also very abusive at the same time. It got so bad that I left a week ago. He is now crying and begging me to come home because he claims to love me and that he has completely changed. I am so hurt because I love still him.”

Or this…

“I don’t know if I fit into your category .  You see, I know that I am blessed with a husband that loves me very much but he gets a kick out of picking on me to the point that I get ill.”

Ummm…wait, what??

Where do I begin?

First, let me say upfront that I know it’s not as easy as me telling them to just up and leave those men. I don’t know the whole story; I don’t know those women personally; that’s not my decision to make. Besides, I literally never have and never will tell a woman to divorce her husband (I’d suggest to come up with a safety plan if she and her children are unsafe, yes, but to outright divorce him, no.)

However, the first thing that came out of my mouth when I read the first email was, “If he can be ‘very abusive at […]

Am I Still a Bad Wife?

In my first marriage, I walked on eggshells.
In my first marriage, I wasn’t yet myself.
In my first marriage, I didn’t say what I meant or what I needed or what I wanted.
In my first marriage, I held onto resentments.
In my first marriage, I did not show respect to my then-husband, to myself, or to the beauty of marriage.
I’m not a fan of who I was in my first marriage, to say the least.

Something happened recently that made me think I hadn’t grown in the least, that I still wasn’t myself, that I still didn’t know how to be in a relationship with another person. But then it turned around.

My husband comes home one weekday evening each week. And on whatever night that ends up being, I, for the most part, make no other plans than to be with him, fully available to him. I want him to want to come home to me. I want to be his home. I want him to intermingle me and home in his mind. If he’s coming home for me, I need to be there, for him and for me.

And yet, there is life. And sometimes there are scheduling things that come up.

And this happened recently.

My son is a senior in high school. He is on the varsity basketball team. I love watching him play. Before he could drive, I would take him to every single one of his games. I was at all of them.  But then he started driving, and I kinda got married and my time filled up in different ways, and I have not made it to all of his games this year. (I’ve been to most, but not all, […]

How to Mend a Broken Relationship

I’m scanning my life and the people I love and I see so much pain. People hurt people. People can be thoughtless. People can be unkind. People can be bullies. People, in their own pain, sometimes can’t help themselves and pour hurt upon hurt on the people in their life, even the ones they love.

I can think of – ohmygosh, I don’t know – a dozen people maybe who I am not okay with. Who I have either had to put distance because of the pain they’ve caused me or who have put distance with me because of the pain I’ve caused them.

And by far I’m not the only one. I cannot think of even one person in my life who doesn’t have at least one completely broken or at least strained relationship, at least one person they feel super awkward around or wish weren’t in their lives anymore. Everyone has at least one.

We all just keep hurting each other. And here’s the saddest part – even when we’re trying not to. We’re human. We’re sinful. Life is messy. There is evil in the world.

But there is also beauty. And hope. And light that breaks through the darkness.

Scripture talks about whether we consider ourselves to be the victim or the perpetrator in a situation, if we are aware that there is a rift, we must try to repair it.

I suggest these steps, knowing that they are not easy and that when I have done them, it has been messy and I haven’t always done this well, but knowing it’s the right thing to do.

Pray. Ask the Spirit to soften your heart to the person who has hurt you or you have hurt. Ask the […]

I Know My Husband is Hot, But Step Off

When working as it was created to, marriage is a gorgeous thing. It represents the sacrificial, give-and-take love between Christ and his Bride, the Church.

satan knows this.
satan hates marriage.
satan attacks marriage.

All marriages are under attack. My first marriage was under attack and it was destroyed. My new marriage is under attack, and I’m ticked off and tired of it. (The irony, of course, is that all I’ve ever longed for – since I was a little girl – was a quiet love and relational peace.)

My marriage has felt under attack since about the day after we got back from our honeymoon. Here are a few ways:

We got married in early May. Ten plus months later and we still don’t live together full-time. Stress and strain on our new marriage left and right. Missing key moments in each other’s lives, attempting to become one from afar, trying to communicate mostly through text (which means having to occasionally try to resolve conflict through text). Yuck.
Early on, we were verbally attacked by a few people. This left us feeling unsure, weak, vulnerable, shaky. Life is messy and we’re human and we hurt people so very deeply (we so desperately didn’t mean to) and then we were hurt so very deeply.
I have noticed over the years that when I am in an intense season of ministry, the spiritual heat is turned up under me. I can think of specific seasons in my life – when Unraveling came out, when I have had big speaking engagements, when I have launched my virtual courses, even when Richard and I were leading an Unraveling small group last Fall – when just plain more bad things have happened to […]

Your Tribe

I recently spent the morning with a friend and on my way to meet up with her, I realized that we had met thirty years ago. I immediately thought of all we’ve been through and how steadfast of a friend she has been to me. I have been in a season of feeling misunderstood and judged and disliked (when I am NOT in a season like that?) and so I felt instant comfort when I remembered that I have her, and a handful of others, who are solidly in my corner.

I have people in my life who do not know me and who do not like me. These are the critics, the haters, those who weigh in from a distance. And though it makes me sad to have these kinds of people in my life, I really don’t care about them or their opinions of me all that much. (I just read this great quote: “If they don’t know you personally, don’t take it personally.”) You probably have people like this too. It’s a shame to have these kind of people in our lives, but we can live with it if our skin is thick enough.

And I have people in my life who do know me and who do not like me. I have more of these than I wish I had, especially as a Christian. Especially as a girl who hates knowing there are people out in the world who have looked me over and thought, eh, I don’t think so. Especially as a girl who was bullied as a child, who always felt never quite enough, who never felt she fit in, who never felt like she had a good […]

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