So today I threw my wedding album down the trash chute.
There was no moment of silence, there was no propelling rage, there was nothing…it was just another useless item sliding down the chute to the trash heap. I'm not putting it in storage or taking it to Japan, and no one else wants it, so off it goes. I opened my hands, I let it go, I walked back to my apartment, and I kept sorting through boxes. That was it.
It's amazing how much can change in a year.
Most people fear change, avoid change, prefer routine. That's never really been my style (yeah, I got so tired of forwarding my mail and changing my address that now I just leave it to the post office to figure out where to find me). However, last year, my life took a radical turn that was completely against my will…and it's change that we have no control over that can be the hardest to deal with.
One day last February, I received a phone call from a woman identifying herself as my husband's girlfriend. But wait…here's the real kicker: his girlfriend of THREE YEARS. In a moment, everything changed. One of the foundational assumptions of my life (you know, forsaking all others and all that) had suddenly crumbled. And six weeks later, my entire life was different…new city, new home, new job, new friends, new church, new EVERYTHING. And five weeks after that, I was officially divorced. And this past March, his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter. To state it mildly, it's been a lot to wrap my head around. No joke.
Now let me be clear - I say none of this to vilify him in any way, only to share the facts of what I have dealt with in this season of extreme change. So driving by his house and throwing flaming bags of poop would be entirely uncalled for. I'M SERIOUS. No really. REALLY. You guys…REALLY. No matter how I say it, it doesn't sound like I'm serious. And now I'm just laughing about it. Whatever. Do what you want. But I told you not to.
I'd been with this man since I was 18 years old. The only model of adult life I had was a married life with him. So what do you do in the face of this kind of change, change that can't be avoided or ignored or denied, that hits you from all sides all at once?
EXCELLENT QUESTION. With any change, big or small, the good news is that you always get to decide how you're going to react. I mean, come on: Change is constant. You are a different person every night when you go to bed than you were when you woke up that morning. Change is the one thing you CAN count on. So the sooner you learn to look for the opportunities in change, the sooner you can get past the horrible, gut-wrenching, a-kick-in-the-face-would-have-been-easier-to-deal-with feelings. Even though getting divorced was the hardest thing I've ever gone through, the pain and tears were not wasted and have been used to create all this awesomeness you see before you now. Ha. And I do have to say this: the foundation your life is built on has a whole lot to do with how you're going to deal with change, so you best figure out what that is. As usual, CS Lewis has a way with words:
So now just when I've developed a new "normal," it's time to change everything again…maybe even more dramatically…new career, new country, all of it! This time, I don't even speak the language! And I think I'll have to wear a suit to work…the horrors!!! Sure, my head might explode from making sense of all the newness, but I'm so excited about WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
I share all of this not because I've suddenly become an awkward oversharer (although that may also be true), but because I want to encourage you to be open to the changes that are happening constantly in your lives and to look for the opportunities in them. Most days, I look at myself and my life, and I shake my head in wonder at all the amazing things that have come out of that mess. And I count myself blessed.