Tuesday, June 19, 2012

From My Heart...

Darryl and I have been together for 14 years, and today... we celebrate our anniversay. We have a special dinner planned on our deck, and just a quite night at home, with one another. Though we do this often, that's also code for... Courtney is at church camp, so our babysitter isn't available. :) We always enjoy just hanging out at home, we love our deck and how peaceful it is out there. And, once the girl gets back from camp... we will go wine & dine elsewhere. :)

When I first started blogging again, I sat down and poured my heart out in a post titled, "Growth". But, I have waited until the right time to share it, since it's so raw and so personal, but considering today is mine and Darryl's anniversary, I thought today is the perfect day to share it. Love is worth celebrating because we all know how relationships are work. Sure, some seasons are wind in your hair days... carefree, not a lot of worries. While other seasons could be like a tidal wave, crashing down. It's all about holding on, even through the hard and rocky times..... because it's through the storm that you find the beautiful rainbow and it makes your love stronger in the end. I should know...

So, here you go. My heart on a screen... real, raw, truth.


I recently read some past journal entries that I wrote and I could see the transformation that was taking place in both mine and my husband’s lives through each and every entry. You see, there was a time when, like in a lot of relationships, that he and I hit a roadblock in the "us" department. You know, life happens, it's a journey. Growth needs to take place. You're riding along beautifully, and then.. look out: wrong direction due to wrong choices. Hey, it happens. Growth takes place, God gets a hold of you, and re-directs your path. I just wish I knew then, what I know now.. it would have saved us years of heartache, both of us trying to figure it all out, and me..simply learning to let it all go. But, again: it's a journey. It takes hard situations to mold us into who we're suppose to be. I learned a lot over the years. Not always in the way that I wanted to learn them, but who ever said that life was going to be easy? You have your beautiful days with rainbows, you have your dark cloudy days, and.. you have those perfect weather-days that make life so beautiful in-between.

Reading some of my journal entries from years ago made me see the ugliness in my heart during that season of our lives, and though they were very real feelings, I'll be honest, it was hard to read. I was so hurt, angry, bitter, resentful, and my heart towards the man that I once adored with every ounce of my being had turned cold and hard.

I never saw the obstacles in life & in my marriage coming, nor was I expecting them. I was on top of the world, so confident in myself as a woman, and in us as a couple. So why did the biggest curve ball of my life have to be thrown at me, head-on? It wasn't so much the actual issues that caused the hurt-for me, though it devastated me, it was more of how things were handled after the fact--> they weren't. It was like this big curve ball was no big deal though my heart was crumbled into a million pieces. My babies were just that, babies.... I looked at my wonderful, happy family and all of a sudden... things were different. Our relationship was different. My peace was gone. My security was gone. I felt that the love that we had, that perfect love, wasn't what I thought it was all along. It was all my perception based on what had happened. Feelings are real; there is no denying that, but one person's perception is not always the truth, though back then.. I couldn’t see this. This was something that I had to learn along the way. It's funny, because we were best friends and we never even fought up until this point, which was about 5 years in. But, we now had this big fork in the road.. this big rock that was thrown down upon us and everything changed from this point going forward.

He was young, and had a lot of growing up to do. We had never had to face real issues before, so this was new for us. This was the moment that we realized how different our coping and dealing methods were. I was a problem solver.. bring it to the table, let’s talk about it.. allow time for healing.. and move on. He was the total opposite. He was a firm believer of brushing issues under the rug and forgetting that they were even there. Because of this difference in dealing, it brought on more issues than what we were originally dealing with. He was drinking a lot during this time, and because of this, he didn't show a lot of respect which made things even worse. Then, I lost a lot of respect, too. I knew I could forgive, but with his reaction or lack thereof, it didn't allow room for healing. It made me feel unloved, uncared for... then years passed, and my feelings soon became my reality. Frustration and anger began to consume him because he just wanted me to stop hurting and to stop wanting to talk about “the issues”. He was numb. I would try to talk, he would just close up, then that would turn to anger, for the both of us. It was a vicious cycle that we couldn't break. I felt that unless we talked about it, unless he became, understanding... caring... I would never have the security in my heart to allow it it heal. Like all things, un-resolved issues begin to fester... the pain turned into anger, then resentment, then bitterness... I didn't like who I was when I was around my own husband. I could have had a great day, or be having the time of my life with my girls.. Laughing, playing.. then he would walk through the door. All that peace, gone. With just his presence in a room it was like this darkness just crept in- and you could feel it.

It's so amazing to now see how very far we've came.. not only as a couple, but as individuals as well. It makes me not only see God's hand in our lives, but to smile knowing without question that "ALL things are Possible with God!". Without the both of us having Him in the center of our lives, we would have continued down the path we were headed-- totally different directions and just going through the motions of life. Something that has always been dear to my heart is, "Ecclesiastes 3:11"--> "He has made everything beautiful in its time". This holds such truth for me. What I love knowing is that during the difficult times God was there the entire time, knowing without question that If we were to follow His way in truth & in love, that our marriage would not only be restored, but in that.. it would give Him glory! He was (and still is) the glue that holds our family together. And I'm SO SO thankful for that! I never lost hope through the hard times we faced...though there were times when I honestly thought the best thing I could do for both of us was to just walk away. Tt made me dig deeper in my faith, in my own heart, and in the hearts of my children. Though there was a time years ago when our relationship was only holding on by a tiny little thread, we know without question how love never fails. You simply trust God, never lose hope, and hang on... because love & family is something that you should never give up on.

I am honestly amazed at how much my husband has changed over the years. He truly is a different man and because of that, it has allowed me to grow into the woman and the wife that I am suppose to be. I'm far from perfect, oh... but I am ever so evolving, as is he, and this is what I love the most about life. The possibility of change, simply from looking at ourselves from the inside out, recognizing any character flaws or sin in our lives, and taking control of the issues.. this is where growth begins.

During this time, even through all the pain, I tried to do the right things, living my life the best way I could... but knowing that all that ugliness was in my heart--- simply because the pain was undealt with--- how could I ever become the wife that God intended me to be? The wife and woman that I wanted to be? I tried to reason with God so much during prayer, "God, change him and then I can love him the way I'm suppose to". "God, make me feel worthy & loved in his eyes so I can love him back". "God, I can forgive him for all the pain if only you would just make his heart open up & talk to me!" God, show him how to care for me the way he use to and not be so cold & angry". I begged, I pleaded... and for years, I waited...painful waiting.. for growth in my husband's life to happen. Before the big curve ball was released in our lives, he was so different. So tender, so attentive, very loving. We had so much fun together, and we were just so carefree. Then, life happened- that “curve ball” was thrown as hard as it could, shattering my heart in a million pieces. He was also dealing with a lot of his own issues, one being alcoholism that nearly destroyed our family. With addiction, it's not a stand-alone gig, it brings out the worst in people. During this time, I can honestly say I didn't even like my own husband. That wasn't how God designed love and I refused to accept it. I mourned the lost love that was once between us, the pure love that was gone. I didn't want all the "bad" to be a part of our lives, I wanted to be the carefree, naive girl I once was. I was safe then because ignorance is bliss. I had never opened up to anyone so deeply before in my life... so I felt betrayed, hurt, and stupid for giving my whole heart to someone who took it for granted. But, as all sin and things not good... God has a way of exposing them, to bring them into the light to be dealt with. To learn from, to grow. Sometimes when things are brought to the surface, you can learn quickly from them and move on. Other times, ugly things like pride and control takes over and things get much worse before they get better.

We had our good times, almost masking the problems and trying to make the most of it. I tried so hard to yield to what he wanted, to not talk about the pain in my heart or to seek out answers that I so desperately needed. So for a short period, I just numbed myself up to my feelings and the problems the way that he did, even though I knew how unhealthy that was. We had no peace between us otherwise. I tried this method for awhile, the outer shell was good, but internally I was hurting so deeply. Just like anything unresolved, the feelings were still there and eventually resurfaced. Our relationship was a roller coaster ride.. we both wanted off and just get back to "us", but we kept failing. Both of our hearts hurt, but we both dealt with it differently.

From pain, stems anger. With pain however, allows the oppourinity for growth. God has a way of taking something so broken, and slowly he puts the pieces back together... only to find it's more beautiful than it was before. In reflection however, those were the hardest years of my life. I feel like I missed out on so much joy that this life has to offer simply because I allowed the brokenness and the pain and the "issues" to consume me. This is how I fell into a deep depression. It was dark, and lonely, and the only thing that pulled me out of it was prayer and that constant love & comfort from my Savior. It was a stressful and challenging time in our lives anyways. He was in the beginning stages of running his company; I had just started my own company, while raising my 5 girls. Our schedules were full, and our lives were really out of balance. When he and I are good, everything else in life falls into place. The roller coaster continued for years. Good times, bad times... a lot of stagnic times. We were just going through the motions a lot of the time. I knew my heart wanted and needed so much more than he was giving me, and I longed for it. I knew God was the only one to get ahold of him and change him. It wasn't until a few years later that that transformation started taken place.

You never understand why something has to happen to you until you're through it and then it makes sense. NOW I understand why we had to go through that horrible time in our lives. A lot of things in his life weren't in line and where they were supposed to be. He was off-balance, stressed, depressed himself, and he turned to alcohol to cope. I always knew the potential he had because I knew the man that I fell in love with--- I knew he was still in there. The anger, pride, and alcohol changed him into someone I didn't even know. God was teaching me so much during this time. I relied on him fully. My strength came from Him and Him alone. He taught me about forgiveness, and what that really looked like. About patience, about the own ugliness in my heart. About how we are responsible for our own actions, no matter what wrongs someone else has done. That was a hard lesson for me. He also taught me that not one sin is greater than the other. We are (all) broken and a work in progress. I was so quick to condemn my husband for the pain that he had caused me, our family, and our marriage....yet, here I was no better based on the hardness of my heart and the way I was treating him during this time due to the pain, frustration, anger & just wanting him to "get it". But growth... oh, this is how we learn. It takes circumstances like this to mold you into who you are suppose to be. To reveal all the ugliness & brokenness.. to really examine your heart and take the responsibility in figuring out how to change it.

In the very beginning of our relationship, one of the very first gifts he gave me after a few months of dating was a beautiful picture frame that had the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.. In the beginning, I felt this was how we were... this was our love verse, ….or so I thought, until that curve ball came crashing down. From that point going forward, every time I saw this verse it took on a new meaning-- it showed me what our love wasn't. He changed through this, I changed through this. Then, after a few years of "not dealing" and watching him turn so cold and withdrawn... my heart soon followed. But.. God is good. NOW when I see this verse, my heart rests. It smiles. Because we never gave up. We held onto the love that we had for one another, even during the darkness--- love never fails. My heart rests in the TRUTH of that. When you lose hope, you lose everything. I never lost hope, nor did he. Hearing him speak now of this time in our lives, it makes me so proud to call him my husband. He has grown so much into the man that he is supposed to be. It took a lot of heartache to get here, but I'm so proud of him. He now values me, something that I so needed for him to do. He now respects me again, which brings me security & peace. He opens up to me & shares his heart, which makes me feel more connected to him. Growth evolves into change, and our marriage today really is a story of redemption. Marriage is work, but when two people are finally in cinch, the wheels turn a lot easier. We are a continued work in progress (aren't we all?)... and that's what I look forward to every year in my life.. the growth. There is something to be said when you're standing on top of a mountain looking down... knowing how far you've came. You persevered, both of you together and also, as individuals.. Life is a beautiful thing.. even through the hard. The portion of the verse above holds so much meaning to me now, simply because it describes what our love has been through, and yet.. love never fails.... You just have to be willing to ride out the storm.

I am opening up and sharing all of this simply because my heart is full & I feel on top of the world right now. I have felt like we have had "us" back for awhile now and without God, I honestly don't think that could have happened. For years we have been climbing uphill... slow & steady... growth taking place in both of us along the way, and I think that was God's plan all along. And now, it has been so amazing to finally be where we are supposed to be in one another. THIS is love, and I owe all the credit to God. It's almost like God smiling down, pouring out the most amazing blessing He could ever give us... one another in the purest form. Darryl made the comment a few months ago how it's like we're falling in love all over again, and it's true. The newness is there again. We both are eager to help the other, to compliment the other, to build one another up. To purely focus on the GOOD in one another. To SERVE one another.. I now remember what it feels like to be best friends again... in love... not just going through the motions of life, and playing "roommates" anymore. Will there be peaks and valleys? Absolutely, but knowing where we've been... and where we are today, proves that there isn't anything that we can't overcome as long as God is the center of both of our lives.

I love that when I look at my husband now, I see the GOOD again, whereas after that curve ball that was thrown, I only saw the bad. We've been through so much together... and to know that through all of that, we are closer now than ever, shows what real love really looks like. Real love isn't perfection.. it isn't without fault. It's being in a storm and finding the rainbow up the road. I learned that love is a CHOICE, it's not a feeling. If we all lived our lives based on feelings, I can't help but think about how much we would miss out on. Sometimes it takes going through the really hard to find the really beautiful. I am so proud of my husband and at the man he has become, and I tell him this often. He changed for our family, for our marriage, and for God.... and I will always be so grateful for that change. Something else that I discovered along the way is that Growth doesn't just happen, it too, is a CHOICE. If we sit & allow the same thing to happen, we get nowhere. Growth happens when you allow God to work, and you take time to reflect on your life & change the things that you do not like. We all need a "life purge" every once in awhile... What are you not happy about? What is it that you personally can change about that? You might not be able to change your circumstance, but you can always change yourself and the way that you react to it. Take time to water the seeds in your life, and ahh... growth is bound to happen.

I've grown so much personally.. I've been doing a lot of reflection lately, and I have to smile at it all. It's funny, because when I was in my late 20’s, I had really "came into" who I felt I was supposed to be. I was so happy in life, so full... so content, and just happy with who I was as a woman. Then, that "curve ball" got thrown my way and that made me second guess who I was. It's amazing how much our lives are affected by the choices of those around us... if we allow them too.(another lesson learned). Once that "curve ball" was thrown.. it changed me. My heart got hurt for the very first time, and that was new to me. The person who was my rock in life that offered so much love & security, it was taken away in a matter of seconds. I had always trusted & seen the good in everything & everyone...and all of a sudden, I found myself doubting everything and everyone around me. A once "free spirited, happy-go-lucky, very trust-worthy" person.. was now very guarded, very hurt, and very unsure of herself. A LOT Of growth took place... year after year. Healing took place in small steps... all in God's timing.

As woman, we seek acceptance. We want to feel special, wanted, needed, desired, beautiful... we are at our best when we feel this way. During that season of my life I was seeking all of this from the wrong place. Here I had finally felt SO confident in who I was as a woman, so comfortable in my own skin.. just so at “peace. Then, that curve ball... I was then thrown back a hundred feet from where I had just came from. I questioned everything about myself--- my insecurities ran rapid. I felt lost. I felt every single emotion under the sun, then.. those emotions turned to anger.. oh, the anger. That was what consumed me. I spent (so) much time in prayer during this time... I became closer to my precious Jesus than I had ever been before. We weren't going to church during this time in our lives since the girls were just babies, but I found myself giving more of my heart to Jesus than I ever did before. Oh, the conversations I had with him.... and the comfort in knowing that even after hearing all my thoughts, feelings, rants... He still loved & accepted me for who I was.. broken & all... He always (always) brought me back to that place of PEACE and TRUTH. I knew deep down that my husband loved me very much, but he just didn't know how to show it, not with words, or by actions during that time. He was consumed.. the alcohol changed him, the brokenness of "us" changed him. I needed reassurance from him, yet he didn't know how to give it. I was hurt & broken... and because he didn't know how to make those feelings go away, he just turned numb. It was a journey, that I will say. When he saw how we were barely hanging by a thread, and it was slowly breaking... he took control of his life & his family and stopped drinking & started making really positive changes in his life. God began to become first in his life and I could see this. Though we were doing so much better as a couple, we still had a lot of growing & healing to do, so things still weren't where they needed to be. Progress was being made... both in us as a couple, (slowly)... and also as individuals (which now, in hindsight, the latter was the most important growth that needed to happen).

Fast forward, I guess it was about 3 years ago when the light-bulb went off in my head. After all those years, all the heartache, the long journey for my heart to heal…..I finally "got it". My lesson in all of this mess was being brought to light. God spoke to my heart in what He was trying to show me all along: I had been seeking out acceptance through my own husband's eyes... my worth, somehow, had always depended on my own perception of how my husband saw me. My inner most being was so dependent on my husband valuing me, rather than how GOD saw me and how I saw myself. During that time my husband struggled with opening up to me and without hearing how he felt about me, and by him not showing it, I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t enough in his eyes. We are also built very differently in this regard, just like the majority of all woman & men are. I didn't realize this then, so this alone caused a lot of heartache that could have been avoided had I known then, what I know now. I expected him to react to situations the way that I did. I expected my feelings to be his feelings. I am wired to dig deep with feelings & connecting by communicating, so I expected the same from him. But, he's not wired this way... so putting this large amount of pressure on not only him, and also on us as a couple, without knowing it- I placed my own worth & value in the palm of my husband’s hands which was the craziest thing I could have ever done. Why wonder I felt so defeated in my heart, in my mind.. I was fighting a battle within my own heart that could have never been won. Our worth isn't placed on how other people see us, even our own husband’s, it's placed on how GOD see's us and how we see ourselves! But, again: we learn, we grow. :) During church one Sunday, The Holy Spirit was so very present and spoke to my heart during worship... "You are enough, my beautiful child, You are enough." I left that service with peace in my heart..... I knew I was enough all along, but I always beat myself up because I didn't feel like I was enough in my husband's eyes simply because he didn't understand how to show it, esp. after everything we had been through over the years. So, instead of giving more of himself, he had always done the opposite- closed up. But to hear those sweet words from my Savior--- oh, how He listens to my heart, there was peace. TRUTH. My worth is defined by how GOD sees me (beautiful & perfect in His image).... had I just realized then that my acceptance comes from HIM and HIM alone. THIS moment changed things for me. I started seeing things differently... I felt more at peace w/ my heart,.. with myself. As woman, I think sometimes we look for validation, acceptance from either other people, or like I did, from our husbands. Now I understand how he felt during that time because now he opens his heart up to me. But then, I didn't understand it. He told me he had a lot of growing up to do.. he can say that now that he is sitting in a different seat. He opens up to me now in ways that blows me away. This allows me to give more of myself, to love harder. To serve more. To trust more... and for that amazing thing called peace & security to fill my mind and my heart in place of the fear & pain that once consumed me.

Growth, it's a beautiful, beautiful thing. It's funny, because I am more content and at peace with who I am as a woman now, than I have ever been in my life. I thought I had "came into" who I was suppose to be right before entering into my 30's.. but then that growth was lost...., though I felt the same kind of contentment & acceptance of myself as a woman then, as I do now, it's different now. I understand myself better, I have done a lot of self-discovery... a lot of quite time alone, a lot of prayer.. to know what helps maintain balance & happiness in my life. I am not only comfortable in my own skin, I am happy with who I have become. Having been through what we went through, allowed the layers of our lives to be peeled away.. allowing us to evolve, to grow.. so that when it was in God’s time, we would be whole, as individuals.. so then we could become whole, (as ONE), together.

I can now smile because we not only overcame all the obstacles that faced us, but I truly discovered myself along the way. It's rather ironic... the title of my blog is "Finding Joy in the Chaos".. with my by-line being, "A 30 something mother to 5 little girls trying to find a better balance in her life while discovering herself along the way". What a journey it has been. That was over 4 years ago, and I don't think I could have chosen a better by-line now, if I could. :)

Life is full.
Life is good.
Life is never perfect, but it is beautiful.. even in the messiness. Embrace the messy, even if it's hard.. because it's through the hard that we grow. Trust me, I speak from experience, and…. from my heart.

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