Expressing Gratitude in the Dark Valley

Scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I see a friend announce that she’ll be using paper plates for Thanksgiving this year…for the first time ever. I sat quietly for  moment pondering our Thanksgiving this year and I glanced over at the stack of boxes in my living room. My gorgeous white square plates are wrapped in newspaper and packed. We won’t be having a nicely set table this year and I took a moment to deeply ponder what I am thankful for this year.

My 16 year old daughter, Moni, is sitting on the couch painting her nails, Gina who is 12 years old is snuggling our puppy, and Timmy is watching a tutorial video on his computer. Jessica, who is 19 years old, is sitting across the room from me playing her guitar and singing. I’m thankful to have family.

FallLeaves by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

My husband and I are going on 20 years of marriage and moving to a new city, anticipating the newness of a large city lifestyle and saying goodbye to this smaller town. We are thankful for the trials we have had in life and Chico, California has been a place where we learned a lot about life, community, and trust. We experienced destruction and redemption. We’ve said goodbye to loved ones at the funeral parlors…loved ones who weren’t able to find their peace in life and chose to find it in death. We’ve said goodbye to neighbors, church communities, and abusive relationships.

This town has been a mix of laughter, community, and tragedy. It’s no one’s fault necessarily, it’s just a part of this life.

I am thankful for the years we did have that were peaceful. I am thankful for those who were supportive during our tough times. They were divinely appointed for those times in our lives and now we press on to a new life where new friends await us.

Being thankful for the trials in life is probably the most difficult sort of thankfulness to express. To be able to look at those past trials as learning experiences and as adventurous paths where we found mercy and grace.

To look at the darkness with a romantic heart knowing that is the place where we found our Savior, experienced his gracious embrace, and where we birthed our own redemption story.

Communicating that story may be viewed as glorious to some while hated by others and trying to find the most appropriate words to tell a story such as ours, can be arduous. I don’t intend to be hurtful, but blogging through the brokenness is not going to be appealing. I pray that the telling of my story can be engaging. My prayer is to find ways to tell our story in such a way that I can express the hope I have found in Christ and the faith I have placed in Him to guide us to a fresh beginning. My heart longs to close the pain of the past and see it transformed into a respectful passion to help others who are facing what we have already been through.

The heartbreaking past that we have is what gave way for this new birth and coming to understand the dark valley we have walked through gives us a perspective we did not have before.

Yet here I am trying to compose my words around my journey of gratitude so I can view those menacing memories as stepping stones and not terrors that haunt me every day.

Here is where I find what I am thankful for…experience. God has given us the experience needed for the future that awaits us. Oh, to be grateful for those dark valleys, the abusive years, the mental turmoil, and the spiritual terrorizing.

To find understanding for those who may not even realize what they’ve done. To forgive them when they deny any ‘wrong’ doing. To find courage and strength to walk away and trust that God has a purpose for it all and trust that he will issue proper justice (not revenge) in his due time….not my own.

May life launch us forth with passion and zeal to make a difference for others who have suffered. To help them find healing and to empower them to move forward in life in a loving community.

It is in my heart’s desire to become involved with helping in an anti-bullying organization. I want to take some communications classes and further my own counseling studies to focus on giving victims a voice so they can help turn their past into a stepping stone for others too.

Thankful for dark valleys that produced patience and experience.

Thankful for experience that gave us hope.

Thankful for faith and the Author of that faith that carried us through.

Prayers, Magic, and Positive Thoughts

In the midst of having such an exuberant week, looking towards great possibilities for our future, a phone call came in. Not the kind of phone call I thought I’d get..especially from this specific person. With the phone to my ear, I was vomited all over by hate filled words of anger and sly threats to ‘not ruin’ my husband with a phone call.

Sigh**

He may not even realize how hurtful his words were to me. He probably doesn’t even realize how abusive and manipulating he was.

I am quite certain he didn’t expect to hear what I had to say about it all…

“I’m hanging up now.”

*click*

I don’t enable bullies.

I’m done with being bullied.

I do consider myself a Christian, but I’m not a doormat. I’ll help whoever I can if they can be willing to work on changing their lives and we can walk together…but I’m not going to be a baby sitter.

What came next was far more painful…other people calling…who had already gotten an ear full from this man…and they believed him. They had their minds made up before calling me.

I had to spend several hours on the phone with people I deeply love, convincing them of the truth and pleading with them to consider my character. Let my character tell you that I’m innocent of the accusations.

Why is it so easy for people to swallow lies and accuse innocent people?

Do they want to believe the worst about me and my husband?

We’re not perfect people by any means. If someone wanted to accuse us of something, at least pick our real faults and not false faults.

So in the middle of my hope for our future, preparing my home for a move, and looking forward to a new start, I get this…I feel like I’ve been dumped on..I cried all day…trying to clean up the negative emotional vomit that covered me, picking out the chunks of hate from my hair.

How much more rejection do I need to suffer through?

I’m not Jesus. I can’t carry the weight of the world and the emotional unhealthy mental instability of those around me.

I can point to some resources, I can offer an encouraging word or two…but only those who are willing to receive it will benefit from it.

And so it is with great pain that I have to put up yet another boundary…to avoid mental and emotional vampires. I don’t need my positive energy ripped from me.

Over the next couple of months.. I’ll let the machine collect the calls. I emptied my email inbox and will create a new email..and not give it to negative hurtful people. I will be limiting access to my Facebook discussions.

And as much as I hate to be negative, I can’t help but to think they will be offended at my decisions and blame me further…instead of understanding how I feel..how hurt I am..and giving me the space I need to heal.

We need this move, we need this change, we need this new beginning. Please pray for us. Light a candle. Cross your fingers or rub the Rabbit’s foot for us. Whatever positive energy you are willing to send our way..we need some magic, my friends. Lots of it.

Open doors with provision.

A new community of love.

Opportunities to connect in humanitarian venues.

Working in a professional atmosphere.

Avoiding condemnation.

Healing for hearts and spirits.

Unity in family.

Forgetting the past and pressing into the future.

If Only….

If only all Christians could agree to hold firmly to these “love your neighbors as yourself” and “you will reap what you sow” then maybe we could find a more peaceful way to be a community.

heaven by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere