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How I Finally Turned the Page

I was lying on my couch tonight when my phone buzzed. It was a text. My heart raced as I saw the horribly abusive words on the screen that were designed to wound my heart. It was from an emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend who decided after a long while of not talking – that he would lash out at me verbally. I shook my head and hit block on his number (all my numbers unblocked when my phone reset itself last month). The last time we talked I saved him from hurting himself. Though I was furious with this guy’s words, I knew God was in this moment – turning a page. Our chapter is over.

My phone quickly buzzed again. This time it was a phone call – from another ex. This was the man who was my boyfriend on and off through high school and then for awhile post-divorce. I’d gotten into so much trouble over the years with and for him. He always made me laugh – always. He loves me – always. But he is just not the man for me. He left me when he went to prison when I was in high school, which shattered my heart, and then many years later we ended up trying to date again for a bit after my divorce.

I answered the phone and caught up on life with him a bit and I apologized for always being on the fringe as a friend. He stopped me short in my apology and told me that I had nothing to apologize for – but that he actually needed to apologize to me. He told me he regrets just one thing in his life – he regrets not having been the man I truly deserve. He apologized for all the troubles he caused me. For breaking my heart. For causing me pain. I sat on the other end of the phone and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

He spoke words only God knew I needed to hear. He is not a man of faith – but God used him tonight to help heal my heart. As he spoke for several minutes he spoke truth to the lies I’d believed all these years. His words were nourishment to the raw, oozing, open wounds in my heart. He said he isn’t a man of prayer but he has been praying lately that I find a man worthy of me. A family man. A praying man. An educated man. A great father. A caring, devoted husband. He said if anyone in the world deserves love – that it is me. He said I deserve to have the kind of love that I give others.

All the things I pray to find in a man – he spoke those things as if reading from the pages of my open heart.

The more he spoke, the more I knew that this was God speaking healing to my heart from the most unlikely of places. He spoke things only God knows I struggle with. Since this guy knew me from the time I was 12 – he watched me struggle with things – he spoke truth into some long-standing lies and broke their power over me. When God decides to speak – he speaks, using whatever mouth he wants to speak from.

When he was done speaking, I told him I accept his apology and told him I forgive him. Then we said goodbye for the last time.

Another page turned.

These God moments actually came after another surprise phone call I received last night. This, too, was from someone God used to speak healing to my heart. This one, though a page turned, actually marks the beginning of a new chapter in that particular friendship.

Why am I posting this?

Sometimes God speaks to me this way – through the most unlikely people. And I’m being vulnerable because maybe you’re struggling like me and these words can help breathe life back into you too.

Interestingly, I’ve been mostly off my phone for almost a month – which is exactly how God chose to bring healing – through the phone. AND – I’ve decided that I’m going to rely less on text and more on actual voice calls because text is often misinterpreted.

Interesting then, isn’t it – how tonight’s ugly text brought me pain, while the voice calls from tonight and last night brought me healing.

God cares about even the smallest details.

It goes to show me that I can trust that He will work in me if I’ll trust Him, follow Him, and let Him work HIS way. I control nothing. Not even my own healing.

And it shows me that He knows every detail of my heart and wants to heal me in ALL of my broken places.

And that, my friends, is how I finally turned the page.

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My Final Goodbye

Dear Insecurity,

I never thought I’d be sitting here writing you this letter. In fact, I didn’t realize you’d taken up residence in my life at all until someone showed me a picture. And there you were – right in close behind me – photo bombing my life. You were in every frame. I just didn’t know it until I slowed down long enough to look through my life’s photo gallery.

And there you were, in

Every. Single. Frame.

I addressed you by your formal name, Insecurity, but you have many an alias: Self-Doubt, Hesitancy, Apprehension, Fear, Anxiety, Panic, Timidity. And you come in unannounced with your usual gang of thugs – Pride, Vanity, Stubbornness, Control, Jealousy, Codependency, Unforgiveness, Relationship-Addiction, Lust, and Gossip.

What a motley crew.

The sad thing is – I opened the door and let you all in, and you just stayed, satisfied with using me as a host until I looked in the mirror someone was kind enough to hold up for me and found my heart dehydrated, malnourished, lethargic, barely beating.

You thrived while I slowly began to die.

But something happened recently. Remember those proverbial photo albums I just mentioned? I found some older ones in my memory. I found the ones from when my heart was pure and healthy and strong. Before you. Before I became this sick version of myself.

With you and your cheering squad (all those I allowed in my life that fed you and made you stronger) I became a weaker version of myself. I allowed people you also inhabited into my life who promised to make me happy, yet bled me dry.

You’ve lied and lied and I’ve believed and believed, but it’s time for me to stand up to you and replace your lies with Truth.

I am not who you say – I am who I AM says I am.

I am not insecure – I am secure in the finished work of Jesus’ blood on the cross.

I am not better off dead – I am alive in Christ. It’s the OLD me who is dead. Get it straight.

I am not anxious or depressed – I am equipped with a sound mind.

I am not illegitimate – I am adopted.

I am not unforgiveable – I am forgiven.

I am not unworthy – I am bought with a high price.

I am not broken – I am fearfully and wonderfully made (present tense).

I am not a lost cause – I am redeemed.

I am not ugly in any way – I am beautiful.

I am not controlling – I AM is in control.

I am not your friend – I am a friend of God, which means you are my enemy.

I am not unlovable – I am loved.

You are not welcome in my life any longer. You and your entire aforementioned crew are henceforth banished from me. Forever. As a permanent statute. This document is legal and binding.

Get off my property in the Almighty name of the Everlasting God, Lord of my life.

Run away and never return.

As I begin to grow and get nourishment and live again there’s no doubt my life will get better. Your effects on my life are not permanent.

No doubt, though – our paths WILL cross again – because I know you need a host in which to live, and when I see you thriving off of someone else, I will show them the old crippled way in which I used to live when I allowed you trespass, and when they see the new me, they will know Christ and they will evict you. So don’t get comfortable.

No, we’re not parting on good terms. No, we’re not ever going to be friends again. I’m blocking you upon hitting send.

One final thought, Insecurity and Crew,

Go back to hell where you belong.

This is my final goodbye.

-Melissa

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There’s No Anesthetic For A Broken Heart

There is no anesthetic for a broken heart.
No stick to bite
No hand to hold
At least not the one you wish you could hold.
There’s no remedy for a heart break
Especially one that’s finally healed stronger that before
And now it’s broken again
In the same place
And you know this process because
You’ve endured it before.

When I had my hysterectomy
The surgery lasted over 3 hours,
All because
Where they were cutting
Had been cut 3x before via c-section
And thick, hardened scar tissue had formed.
In fact, my uterus had become entangled in all that scar tissue
So they couldn’t separate it easily.
It had to be cut and cleaned up –
Scar tissue and all.

This time the healing hurt worse than before.
Good thing I didn’t need that organ anymore.
It had done it’s job well.

But that’s exactly how my “heart” feels right now:
Entangled in scar tissue.
Every beat restricted by
Tissue that I’ve built up to
Help me heal before.
But unlike my uterus,
I need my heart.
It is central to life.
And unlike my hysterectomy,
There’s no anesthetic for this.

Some days I don’t feel it at all.
But the worst part about healing isn’t the initial cut.
It’s when the nerve endings
Grow and reconnect and do their job of allowing you to feel again.
But as it heals, it’s so excruciating that I don’t want to feel.

I wrote these words recently.
They accurately describe
How I feel tonight.

But…
A friend of mine had a vision this morning.
She said she saw a band-aid over a wound,
Then the Lord showed her that
He was on the inside, beneath the skin,
Stitching the wound closed.
As she talked I began to cry.
This vision
Is exactly what’s happening
With me right now.
Oh, the pain is agony…
I won’t lie or sugar-coat this:
This is the worst heartache yet
Because of having to
Cut through all the previous
“Scar tissue” from
Past heartaches so I
Heal thoroughly this time.
But at least now I know
That this time
The healing is being orchestrated
By the best Healer.

I am trying to still my
Aching heart,
To quiet my spirit,
And let Him work.

Perhaps it’s time to just rip off the band-aid,
It’s not doing me any good anyway.
Everyone can see the
Gaping wound in my heart that I’m trying so hard to hide.
It’s no secret.
I feel like I’ve had more heartache
Than most people do
In a lifetime and I’ve
Officially had enough.

So…
I need to rip it off and trust
That this time the healing is happening
From the inside out.
One precious stitch at a time.

Healing has no timeline.
I am learning.

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My Heart Begs for Table Scraps

My dog is precious. Her name is Princess. She is a Cocker Spaniel with soft, silky black fur, sweet brown eyes, and when she curls up beside me on the couch and falls asleep with her head in my lap, it melts my heart.

But when I’m cooking dinner and she’s underfoot begging for scraps…ugh. And when my son put his burger too close to the edge of the table and walked into the kitchen for a drink only to find his burger gone and Princess licking her lips… super ugh.

“Dog!” I say with a raised voice…”didn’t I already feed you?!”

Yes. I fed her. She’s just waiting to see if something better gets dropped before resorting to her bowl of dry Beneful.

She’s just doing what doggies do. But I think sometimes that I have been just like the dog when it comes to relationships.

Waiting at the door for attention. Underfoot in the kitchen begging for scraps. Waiting. Pacing. Hoping someone will knock something off the counter. A kind word. A coffee meeting that I can pretend is a date. A text that is probably sent to multiple people as a copy, paste, repeat moment people never admit they do, but it won’t matter…it will FEEL special to me. I will feel singled out. Important. Oh, I know it’s not real love, it’s friendship, or conquest, or boredom, but who cares? It’s a scrap – quickly consumed, yet something that satisfies – for the moment.

I’m worthy of being taken out for a nice, quiet dinner and conversation. I’m way too precious to be begging for the leftovers of someone’s time and attention.

I’ll stop overgeneralizing. You get the analogy.

I am finally realizing that I don’t have to beg for love. I am worthy of love. And if someone doesn’t freely give it, it’s not real and it’s no good for me.

And I’m learning that when someone says let’s just be friends, they mean they’re not interested in more than that with me. Period.

I’ve looked back and counted the number of guy-good-friends I have had and it’s a lot and they all have the pattern of one casual coffee date quickly becoming “good” friends. Still praying through why I’m never seen as more than that. I still have a ways to go on understanding this one. Perhaps God is protecting me. That, and I’m a fantastic friend.

I am learning so many things lately.

I am learning to be quiet. To be content with what I have. To understand the difference between friendship-love and forever-love. To enjoy my life all by myself so much that I am not begging any longer for love and attention.

I am learning who I am and what my life-assignment is.

The last two days of this 40-day-journey (I’m on day 25 right now) I plan to take a short, unplugged, solo two-night trip – just God and me. To journal. To read. To pray. To breathe. To cry. To celebrate a successful journey.

Have I done this journey perfectly? No.

Have I made progress? Definitely.

If you’re praying, I appreciate you, more than you know.

Pray my heart heals. I realized tonight that although I’ve come really far, my heart still has open wounds that are still too painful to touch. They are painful because my feelings are 100% real. I learned that tonight too, when that place was touched for a moment and I winced, internally. Insta-tears. That’s how you know…

I’m just being real here. Because you who read me really pray and really love the real me.

Thank you.

Love you too.

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Clever Title Here

Each day is a little easier.

21 days.

3 weeks today.

And my heart is beginning

To understand

What it really needs,

What it really feels,

What it really longs for.

This 40-day journey will continue

Well past its Sept 24th end-date.

Healing has no timeline.

But I’m finding this time has been

Necessary to regroup,

To let the air and the light in,

To heal.

And the healing hasn’t just been

From the last year or so of

What-ifs…

It’s been from a lifetime of

Why?

And Why-me?

And What’s wrong with me?

I’m learning to embrace me.

This sounds strange to me because

My heart was made to love others deeply.

I wasn’t made like you.

My heart beats in stanzas and

Is filled with enjambments.

My favorite color is every

Hue and changing glimmer

Of sunset.

I live to help and love

And encourage.

A good hug is pure comfort.

So to live unloved in a way

I had hoped to be loved

For years and years

Has been torture to a heart that

Lives to love and be loved.

But I haven’t been unloved.

Not really.

I have kids and family and friends

Who are amazing.

I’m a communicator.

But I’ve realized lately I’ve taken

Scraps of communication in the

Form of texts and “likes” and emojis.

Mere scraps.

Let’s have coffee and conversation.

Let me drink in your story

And share mine over crispy bacon

And creamy-sweet coffee and

A side of hugs and laughter.

Let’s take in a movie, then sunset.

Let’s do life.

Putting down my phone these past weeks has helped me to

Sleep better,

Communicate better,

Think, breathe, work, play,

Live better.

So my journey continues.

As does my healing.

I’m in a battle for a settled,

Well-balanced heart.

As I said in a blog a couple of days ago,

“They lied to us.”

Love is NOT a fairytale.

Love is the day-to-day choice

To be kind and love well

And abide – together –

No matter what.

I’m facing reality squarely.

I lean on your prayers

And I am always praying for you.

When I’m done,

Let’s do life – and friendship –

Better.

I love you.

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Words Matter

I’m a writer. Usually my poetic mutterings here reach the 6 of you who regularly (kindly) read me.

But IRL I am on a team of writers for a major company who made a major announcement today.

Within minutes the media picked up and ran with a memo we got 40 minutes prior. My job? To help give talking points to a few thousand call center agents who were unknowingly about to handle hundreds of calls about this extremely politically charged issue.

Calm was the order of the day. Tone was everything.

All at once time was the enemy and words our best … ammo (pun intended). If you’ve not switched on the news today, you should.

But that aside, it got me thinking…

When time is short and anxieties are high, the words we use really do matter. All too often with my kids, these kinds of moments are ones for which I have to apologize later. This is where what’s truly in my heart comes out.

Words can encite a mob or calm an anxious crowd.

Maybe your job isn’t to find the words that will calm the masses. Maybe your job is just to quiet your own household.

Either way, words matter.

Choose wisely.

Posted in healing, Life Lessons, Love

They lied to us.

It’s taken 2 and a half long, excruciating weeks to unfilter you.

There wasn’t just one, but two:

The filter you wanted me to see you through –

And the filter I chose to look at you through.

Or maybe four – because did I ever show you the real me?

I did.

And so did you.

There were moments I caught a glimpse of reality when I looked in your direction.

We really saw each other.

A beautiful exposure.

Candid.

Unfiltered.

Me.

You.

And it kept my gaze in your direction like a lost first-mate scanning the horizon for a shoreline.

But it quickly vanished.

It’s never real.

Because we protect our hearts with smoke and mirrors.

We’ve all been too-powerfully hurt: those of us who have loved and lost.

Someone said it’s better to have…

They lied to us.

It’s horrible to have loved and lost.

But I’ve decided love is a mirage.

We’re all parched –

Heavy, sand-filled feet habitually strike the ground –

One-after-one until we presumably

Get somewhere.

But I’m tired. And I’m thirsty.

And I refuse to follow my own heart any longer.

And I refuse to follow advice-columns, talk-show trends, suggestive cinematic smatterings of hope.

This is why my heart is sick.

So I’ve decided to settle in where I belong instead of searching the horizon for what I “deserve,” what is “meant to be,” for what must be my “destiny.”

Destiny is here.

Truth lives in my heart.

It takes a true warrior to fight what tries to strangle her within.

I belong in my skin.

In this generation.

For the purpose of smiling, laughing, living, expressing joy.

It’s not what I don’t have that gives me purpose and hope.

Nor what I do.

It is who I am and, more to the point, it is exactly who I exist for:

I AM.

I won’t perfectly live out this truth, unfiltered.

I won’t promise I’ll never wish for this hole inside of me to go away or be filled.

But it’s truth that sets me free.

So I’ll stay on this path to truth, TV on mute, recycling bin close by, earplugs at the ready because the truth is:

We don’t have to search for love.

We already have it.

Love was crocheted into our DNA.

They lied to us.

Posted in Poetry, Word, Word, Truth, Life, Love, Writing

Word Before the Day

As I stumble upon morning, yet again, My throat parched,
My eyes cluttered with matter,
My heart half-awake –
I reach for your Word.
Well, first coffee; because…coffee
But always your Word.
And not out of habit.
Well, it IS my daily habit, but
That’s not my motivation.
No. My sweet, smiley,
Southern-belle-heart
Doesn’t always drink-in a
“Good” morning
So easily.
Whereas I don’t always
Feel “good” –
It is good.
Which is why your Word
Is necessary.
It brings life.

I’m 2 weeks into this
Quiet journey today,
Yet there are moments I,
Like the Israelites,
Prefer my “Egypt”-
Because
There is comfort in the familiar.

Truth-be-told
I’ve walked through this
Desert for 16 years and I, too
Have grumbled about
Mannah and quail.
But it has been my provision.
We’ve never missed a meal,
Nor had no roof over our heads.

But it’s time to cross over the Jordan.

My “Egypt” looked like
Men comforting me via text with
Hollow words that kept me
Wondering – and wandering.
My “Egypt” looked like
Words on a screen that
At first soothed, then
Scarred my heart.
My “Egypt” looked like
Delicious foods,
Pleasing to my mouth, yet
Horrible on my body.
Like spending too much,
Like being “liked” by strangers,
Like “I got this.”

But I don’t. Not really.
Not without my good, good Father.

When I awake at dawn
And find myself alone –
And find a message meant from
A concerned friend
Saying “you don’t have a husband because you don’t love God enough and you must have hidden sin.”

I want to shriek –
And block their number
And, like Job, finally stand and utter:
“Look, my eyes have seen all this; my ears have heard and understood it. Everything you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. Yet I prefer to speak to the Almighty and argue my case before God. You use lies like plaster; you are all worthless healers. If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom!” [Job 13:1‭-‬5 CSB]

This! This is why I reach for your Word.
Before work.
Before my daily wake-up greeting for Mr. Middle School.
Before my work inbox fills with requests.

And, like the Psalmist, I declare:
“If your instruction had not been my delight, I would have died in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts for you have given me life through them.”
[Psalm 119: 92]

More Word.
Less text. Less grumbling.
More Word.
Less “likes.” Less posting.
More Word.
Less judgment. Less hatred.
More Word.
Just more of your life-giving Word.

Posted in healing, Prayer, rest

Resting in Peace

I was in the hospital for a while yesterday. I suppose this was an appropriate location given my last blog on taking care of myself.

Bottom line though is…I’m sick. I’ve kept working through it this week (I took 3 half-days off), kept the house picked up after the kids, etc. But I’m extremely weak. When I got to the ER I wondered aloud why I hadn’t gone there two days earlier. My hips and legs hurt so badly (from dehydration from my stomach illness and vitamin deficiency) that it feels like it’s my very bones that ache. I got a bag of IV fluids, two meds for nausea, one for stomach pain, thiamine, and I’m on two antibiotics.

I’ve been on a mostly liquid diet since Tuesday morning and have to continue it for another week. If you handle life with prayer, I could use some right now. If you know me well, a text wouldn’t hurt either. Just sayin.

This is day 9 of my 40-day social-media-free journey. This week when I was so sick, I wanted to reach out to people via social media, but I didn’t. Instead I surrounded myself with my family, texted my closest girl-friends, and prayed.

I haven’t been perfect on this journey. I did peek in on social media on a couple of occasions, but there’s grace for that. And anyway, it’s my own journey.

I had bought tickets to take my son to Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium today, but mom ended up taking him. I also had plans to join one of my bestie girls (Shelby) for dinner in Celina and shower her with pre-birthday goodies (Happy Birthday Shelby-Lou) but I didn’t feel like going.

Instead I watched Braveheart and Avengers End-game and slept. A lot.

I tell you what, sleeping has been surprisingly peaceful this week. I usually can’t fall asleep, This afternoon I slept on the couch through two of my favorite battle scenes in Braveheart and had to rewind. I love that movie for so many reasons.

I’m not even sure I’ll post this publicly. It’ll probably post privately like so many of these do.

My point (mostly to self) is… I need more sleep and more prayer in my life. And apparently more B vitamins.

Sigh.

Speaking of sleep, I do believe I will…

Posted in Uncategorized

Get Rid of “Me”

Good morning. It’s day 6 of my quiet, social-media-free journey. It’s been nourishing for my soul.

Yesterday I slept almost all day because of a stomach virus. Truth is, I don’t feel much better physically today. But I’ve been way behind on getting any real rest – for months. So a day where I was forced to sleep helped me catch up.

I don’t feel like getting out of bed to get my journal and pens, so online journaling will have to do. The title of this blog is Get Rid of “Me” – here’s why:

For most of my adult life I’ve been a caretaker. I’ve been a single mom for 16 years. Every person I’ve dated post-divorce I’ve felt like I had to take care of in some way. I’m finding out that I unintentionally sought out people I could take care of so I wouldn’t have to think about my hurts, my fears, etc. In so doing, I helped many, but neglected myself.

So now I’m working hard at losing weight, being in the Word, finding out who God wants me to be. In short…taking care of myself.

Newsflash: neglecting myself was selfish.

It was selfish because when I don’t take care of myself, other people eventually have to. I want to live a long life and be part of my kids’ and future grandkids’ lives. I don’t want them to have to take care of me. I am finding out it is only when I take care of myself that I can take care of others in a healthy, balanced way.

So the title here reminds me that I need to get rid of the “me” who feels prideful and important when I take care of others before myself. I needed a motive check. A reality check.

In Mark 12, the Word says “Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31 CSB

If I neglect my soul, live with a broken heart, am out of my mind with worry, and have no strength physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, I cannot love the Lord well. I want to love him well. He is so worthy.

And the 2nd part of that verse hit me hard last night as I was studying this: love your neighbor as yourself. This implies that I love myself. It implies that I’m already taking care of myself. Already. Without hesitation. As a given. How can I “love well” if I don’t love myself well?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about loving myself like this selfie-driven, me-first, all-for-one-and-that-one’s-me world says to.

I mean just basic self-care.

  • Being in the Word daily
  • Eating well
  • Exercising regularly
  • Sleeping well
  • Living a balanced life
  • Being intentional in real (not online-only) friendships

When I am done with this journey, there’s gonna be a whole lot less chatting and a whole lot more face-to-face. I’m so done with guessing what people mean when I just see their words on-screen instead of hearing their tone and seeing their facial expressions. So done.

With that, I’m going to try to get up and work as long as I can today.

And I’ll be “offline” social media wise (except for the occasional blog) til Sept 24th.

And then I’ll come back as a stronger, healthier “me”.

I’m always praying for you.

I always love you.

-Melissa