I’ve never been a big fan of the calm before the storm. In all honesty, I’m not that fond of the calm after the storm, either. I’m more of a storm chaser. I like to be busy. I like to be doing something. So, naturally, whenever things start to settle down or get a little quiet, I panic. I’m not sure why…or at least, I’m not sure I want to explain why. It’s a lot. But if I have learned anything on this journey, it’s that sharing our stories is one of the best ways we can help others deal with their pain. I don’t know if it’s a misery loves company thing or the security that comes with knowing that maybe, just maybe, we aren’t the only idiot who fell for that. But knowing that others have experienced something similar to the things that have hurt us somehow helps. So, I’ll use this quiet time to tell you a story.
Recently, I attempted to start a new relationship. I don’t do this often. Mainly, because it’s dumb and it never ends up well. I am not a woman who puts up with crap and there seems to be a shortage of men who aren’t seeking an oblivious moron (no offense to those of you who are actually dating someone right now). Yes, all of the “good” ones are taken…I guess. Or at least taken with themselves. I’m not sure a compatible, well-intentioned man has been genuinely interested in me for over twenty years, so to say the least, I’m a little disheartened by the notion of dating. And I really never was one to say that I needed a man. As a young woman, I swore that I would never get married. I would never have a family. I was a strong, single woman and I didn’t need any of that mess. And then, at age 27 or so, I met my now ex-husband and he convinced me that I wanted to be someone’s wife. The joke was on me. Yes, he made me believe that I would be okay with the whole marriage thing, but the truth was he didn’t really want to be that someone. He just thought he did.
It only took ten years for us to figure out that we weren’t right for each other. After that, I had to figure out how to go back to being strong and single again. And that’s a lot harder than you might think once you’ve settled into the comfort of belonging to someone in the way that a husband and wife belong to one another. Suddenly, nobody cares what time you got home or if you made it there at all. Nobody wants to help you with the groceries or listen to that weird noise your car is making. Nobody wants to pat you on the back when you had a good day at work or wipe your tears when it was a bad one. Quite simply, there is nobody who shares your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, or your insecurities anymore. It’s all on you again and depending on how well you handled that before you had someone, that can either be a very exciting thing or a terrifying thing. For me, it was a little bit of both.
Looking back, the sad reality was that even when I was in the marriage I hadn’t had those things. I had the illusion of a partnership. I had convinced myself that if things weren’t great, it had to be my fault and so, what right did I have to complain? It couldn’t have been that I chose someone (possibly purposely) who was incapable of loving and supporting me because deep down, I hadn’t ever wanted to admit that love was something I wanted. I hadn’t loved myself enough to allow myself to want a good marriage and so, I had attempted to build one that looked like it had all the right parts. In reality, we’d had no foundation. We’d only had loneliness and peer pressure pushing us to join forces and act like two people who knew what they were doing. And we were both old enough to have known better.
When I started going through my divorce, the people at my church would try to comfort me by saying that they would pray for my husband and I to reconcile. Without having any knowledge of the circumstances of our failed marriage, they just assumed that because the words, “God hates divorce,” were in the Bible, that God hadn’t spoken to me about what I had needed to do to protect my heart and soul. People just assumed that the best thing for us would have been to be together, even if we weren’t what God had in mind for each other. I think that once we heal, we sometimes forget that each person’s brokenness is unique to that person. Sometimes, what heals one person is not the proper medicine for another. And so, when we pray for someone, we need to ask God to help them live out His plan for their life…not His plan for ours. When I say that I’ll pray for someone, I have no idea what they need. I just know that asking God to help them is probably the best thing I could ever do for someone who is in pain. My solutions won’t remedy your situation. Maybe sometimes, something I share with you might help you to look at something from a different perspective, but you are not me and I, of course, am not you. God had a bit more imagination than that when He put all of this together.
So, getting back to what I alluded to earlier; I recently attempted to date again and it didn’t go well. As it happened, this gentleman didn’t understand that when you are trying to get to know someone, sometimes you actually have to talk to them. Which gets me back to the beginning. It was just too quiet. I can’t sit around all day waiting for something to happen. Waiting for someone to talk to me or ask me to go do something. I need a bit more excitement than that at this stage of my life. So, I politely told him that it just wasn’t going to work…and he didn’t even have the decency to acknowledge it. And so, it remains…it’s just too quiet. But at least I know more today than I did when I tried to build a foundation out of nothing all those years ago. At least today, I’m not afraid to just let it be quiet for a while. A good storm’s brewing somewhere and it will be here soon enough.
But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.
~1 Kings 5:4 NIV~