Yes, it is Mother’s Day and for the two kids that let me celebrate this holiday, I’m eternally grateful. I can’t ask for two children who are more “right” for me…they challenge me, bless me, frustrate me, and help make me the mom and person I am today. (I’m sure I perform the same valuable function for them) I also am processing another milestone today that has made me the person I am today. Three years ago today, my divorce decree was final, making me a single woman for the first time in 23 years. (or 26 if you count the dating period as well)
There was a guest priest at my church today and and I sat down at the table where he and his wife were sitting during coffee hour. He’s been at our church several times, but I finally sat down to talk to them. I have come to the point where I am comfortable being “Diane, the parishioner”, but they started asking questions to get to know me and it came up that my ex husband was the previous priest at the parish. As expected, I got the usual “how sad, how horrible, you poor thing” comments. Several years ago, I might have eaten these up and lived in the pitiful admiration, but now I realize that, like so many, I have a unique journey and I’m just as grateful for that journey as I am for my journey as mother.
First, I need to make the disclaimer….were I to design my life, I wouldn’t be divorced. However, circumstances in a less than perfect world led me to this point and I can only rely on God to use this situation to make me a better person, which I can honestly say has happened in ways that I would never have imagined.
As I sit here and process the previous three years, I look back to a woman on May 8, 2013 who was superficially strong, but had only a superficial understanding of the God who gave her that strength. I have now become a woman intimately and imperfectly journeying towards God’s presence and thankful daily for His grace that gives me strength when I’m tired, lonely, sad, and self pitying. My God lets me dwell there for a time, then reminds me to be grateful and focus solely on Him and me…not others as I used to do.
The woman of 2013 judged others…and was pretty highly skilled at it (yeah, I’m an overachiever, even in judging others). Today, this woman tries with every fiber of her being not to judge others. Sometimes people ask me what changed in me. I tell them, “It’s hard to judge when everything you used to judge about others has happened to you!” I’m a single mom of a recovering addict (who thankfully has been sober and successful for 38 months) and a college dropout (who thankfully has returned to college successfully when HE was ready) who teaches in a high poverty, minority school. I love the breadth of what this has brought to my life and the compassion I now feel where judgment used to reside. EVERY person has their own journey to walk and it is not for me to judge where they are or what they are doing. It is for me to PRAY for them, LOVE them and ACCEPT them. As I’ve come to understand my faith, that’s what Christ did. I can’t do anything different.
The woman of 2013 had lost any sense of who she was and what she liked. I remember my first date after being separated when the aforementioned date asked me what I liked to do and I responded, “I don’t know. Really, I don’t know!” I was being totally honest. I had lost myself in being someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s priest’s wife. Today, I can say that I love being outdoors, hate closed minded people, love red wine and dark beer, dislike small talk, love kids who struggle and struggle with entitled kids, love to adventure, dislike being bored and am looking forward to all life has to offer to me.
The woman of 2013 held herself back so as not to make others in my life feel less. Today, I embrace my God given talents as well as work on my defects. I can honestly say that I am a wonderful teacher, a good mom and a quirky woman. I can also honestly say that I am awkward and overbearing, often lack the ability to pick up on some social cues and am a less than outstanding housekeeper. I am a really good alto, a so-so fill in soprano, a good parish council secretary and at best, a mediocre gardener (who aspires to be much better). I am ok with being ok and also great with being outstanding at some things. I thank God for the gifts he has given me and work on the things that challenge me. I couldn’t have said this a few years ago.
While I would never have chosen my journey, I exceedingly grateful for it. God can work beautiful things out of the worst circumstances. I am not one who believes that God decides we need bad things in our lives to teach us lessons…He wants good for all of us. However, in our imperfect world, bad things happen. And as I told the visiting priest and his wife, my life isn’t tragic or sad. I am blessed beyond measure. I have bad days, but I have an amazing and exceptionally wonderful life. God is beyond our bad days and I’m so very thankful for that, even on May 8, 2016.