Sunday, September 25, 2011

Have A Little Talk

There are times when being a divorced woman, a single parent, amd a woman with an issue (fibromyalgia), all become overwhelming. Everything collides and the impact is formiddable. I am alone without a mate parenting two children who need physical, educational, emotional and spiritual guidance, trapped in a physical body that is not at topnotch performance or condition managing within an adjusted micro economy. It's incredible.

I stay organized and on task, all hands on deck and constantly active to make the best of our lives. I thank God for family support. But every so often, I forget to give my heavy yoke over to Jesus, and I almost break under the burden.

So, this past Saturday, I spent a day doing absolutely nothing. I didn't achieve anything, except a shower and clean lounge about clothes. I had no unction to function, and I did not want to think about what the next obstacle in my life was presenting. I didn't want to give up, and I didn't want to run head on into the storm, either. I just wanted to sit still.

It is hard to sit still when you are a results oriented person. Guilt overrides every other sense because you know how much there is to get done. Somewhere in your wharped mind, the sky will fall if you don't get it done. Never mind the sun still rose whether or not your floor was vacuumed.

I got up and cleaned the kitchen, sat back down and returned to continuous episodes of Bones, one of my favorite television crime shows that I only watch on Netflix or Internet, got up and loaded the washer with laundry. My niece came over in the evening and figuring that it would be a good idea if I ate something healthy, I made us a great salad with grilled chicken and fresh spinach and parmesan cheese. With back to back episodes of Bones. You get the picture; but it was still rest for me.

I needed to wrap my mind around the concept that everything was not going as planned. As a matter of fact, apparently some folks had not even READ my plan, or had simply discarded it. Because a small mess was brewing and an act of God was going to be necessary to get this plan back on track. It is in this very moment that I had to pull on my resources and say to myself, "self, I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor His seed begging bread". I had to speak to myself and say "and if I ask these things, believing, He will do it"; I even had to remind myself that I am "a peculiar treasure" and "a royal priesthood". In other words, I had to speak over myself, and encourage myself, in the Lord.

Another of my nieces called me this evening, and had her version of a pep talk with me, which is how I know without anything like a DNA test that she is my Mothers grandchild. "Aunt Buffi," she says "you have a little talk with yourself and get it together. Don't you be sitting over there being depressed. We don't have time for that right now in our lives. Now I will make dinner for the kids tomorrow. You get it together, okay?"

I laughed, because that really was what I was doing. I was getting it together, reminding myself that though there be trouble, joy comes in the morning light; remembering that though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; remembering that His promises to me are Yea, and Amen and I am His beloved; and that this race is not given to the swift or the strong but to the one which endureth to the end.

That is what I have to do at times, and maybe I am wrong, but I am sure there are times when you have to do that as well. Times when you need to remind yourself that even though you are having a valley day, there is so much in the valley to gain that you know even this is a part of your victory.

By Sunday morning, I feel my help returning. The situation has not exaclty changed yet, but my faith is restored and that is more than half the battle. That is the whole thing. I encourage you today to speak words of faith and encouragement into your own life and over your own situation. Sometimes, you have to do it.

Give-a-Way Winner

The winner of The Shack Give A Way is Diane. You will receive an email with more instructions. Congratulations and thank you for entering. More give a ways to come!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

He Heals us because He loves us....

On Friday evening I went to a local church to hear Wm. Paul Young, author of acclaimed novel, The Shack speak. Over a year ago, I listened to the book on audio - first in part because it was all that I could handle; and then in it's entirety. Then I listened again a few months after that. It changed my perception of the Holy Trinity; and my understanding of God's love. More than that, it helped me survive multiple tragedies. I had this date marked in my calendar for over 3 months; I intended to be present to hear this author, whose story of publication was just as profound as the story itself, speak.
Purchase at Barnes & (click here)
A week before the event, a good friend emailed me to ask if I had heard of this author or read the book; she wanted to know if I was going to hear him speak. This further confirmed that I needed to be present. I was late getting there, but I still pressed through - there was something in this place I had to get.

I settled in near the back of a scatter crowded sanctuary, while Young himself stood center stage, excellently telling his story. Some of it I already knew; but he divulged more and more about God's love and his life. There were things I had forgotten or maybe never knew, like "the time in the Shack represents 11 years of my life," and "God is a God of relentless affection".

He talked about the life he had lived, one of "learning to live inside of and adapt to other peoples boundaries" because he didn't have the ability to set boundaries of his own, until his facade came crashing down, I was so wrapped up in the presence of God in that place and in his story, I was completely unprepared for what happened next.

"If God loves me at some point the facade has to come crashing down." I sat looking at this man, whom God has chosen to carry this magnificent message, and waited with the rest of the room, to find out what it could have been he was hiding. "What my wife now knew was that I had been in an affair with her best friend for 3 months."

I felt like I had been slammed against a brick wall. "God, why am I here?" I asked "Why do I need to know this? Why now? Jesus."

Given my own situation and the conditions of my divorce, this is a relevant response. I felt certain that it was the right response. I almost got up and walked out. What stopped me was this: God has made a wonderful testimony out of this mans life, and out of his marriage. He must want me to know something to have brought me to this place, and to have made so emphatically sure that I got here tonight.

I stayed. Surely if God forgave Paul, and Kim forgave Paul, I could forgive him too. And why in the world would he need my forgiveness?

I stayed for the rest of the event, and I received much more that evening, and went home. I thought about some of the things Paul said about why Kim didn't throw him out immediately after that horrid time. There were two things that made the difference in their marriage. The first was that he didn't blame anybody else - he knew it was about him; about his own mess and messiness, about his own sick state of being and he took the blame; and the second was that he opened the phone book and called a crisis center and asked for help.

I spent a lot of hours thinking and praying about why it was important for me to be there to hear what Father, Son and Holy Spirit wanted me to hear that evening. It is not simple enough for me to put it in a few sentences, but here is the down home truth of the matter:
"God forgives His children who commit hurtful acts against others of His children because nothing we can do changes His affection for us. While we may have conditional love for one another, God was already well pleased with us before we were formed in our mothers wombs, and His love is unconditional. Just as God never abandoned me in the midst of my mess, He never abandoned my ex husband either. Now, He just wants to heal us, both, individually; and all of us, collectively, because that is the ultimate goal of our faith - the restorative healing of eternal life with God." - Elizabeth
Have you read The Shack? It is on my highly recommended reading list. I encourage you, challenge you even (was that Mean Ole Lion-ish) to read it.

Win a copy of The Shack!

One follower will win a copy of the book just by following my blog and commenting. Note: You must follow Black, Divorced and Virtuous, and you must leave a comment section. Don't forget to leave your email address so you can be contacted if you win.

Comment should answer this question: Have you ever experienced an urge to be somewhere, even when things kept getting in the way of you being there? What happened?

A winner will be picked on Friday, September 22, 2011. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

When does the good stuff start?

When does the good stuff start? Shoot, as my Grandma would say, my good stuff started on the first day I realized I was free from bondage. Free from all of the heavy weight that held me down so strongly that my shoulders bowed forward when I walked.

The good stuff started when I believed that we could heal, grow and even be a healthy family unit in a different way. In my blind faith, the kind I always have, I thought we were well on our way. Even though it didn't quite work out that way, I still held on to what I knew was true - God is in the healing business.

When you are a co-dependent spouse, you need time to heal from all of the years of wounding a spouse's "growing" or "sowing wild seeds" can do in your life once they determine to get well. It is not possible for us to heal in a prescribed amount of time because that spouse is ready for us to be healed, or because the clergy said we should be healed. One thing I learned from Griefshare and personal experience is we all grieve in our own time and our own way.

Just as I couldn't tell my ex husband when and where to cheat or be faithful, man up and be committed to his family, honor the vows he made before man and God, or reverse any other curse inflicted on his little family at his hand, he couldn't tell me when to be healed.

While we started out waiting for God to deliver him from some pretty tough obstacles of his own, supposedly giving him one more year to work on his own progress and deliverance, he was also working on a relationship with a new woman who belonged to his church and remarried just a few weeks after our divorce was final. Neither our children nor myself was aware of what was happening, but on that day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me to go around to the church. It was the Holy Spirit that told me my ex husband was about to be remarried. I went to the church, and only when I actually saw him did I know it was true. My children were crushed, but I didn't interfere, I took them home and explained to them that their father loved them and what he was doing was not at all a reflection on them. I wrapped them up in a bundle of warmth and love and assured them that his love for them would not change.

The next day, I took them to their counselor, and we started at ground zero, almost back to the day of the separation. As parents, we often do not even think about how our choices are going to affect our children, let alone our own lives 3-5 years down the road.

My ex husband had decided that he needed to move on quickly with his life, and waiting for me to be healed from damage caused by the past was not in his plans. God didn't prescribe that for him. It took me a minute, but I am okay with that, because God knows what is best, He's seen the whole story - He wrote the book, and I have come to believe He also didn't plan for me to go backwards into the briar-patch.

After I got over the hurt (about 4 days later) and forgave him, I felt all kind of weights and bondage lift off of me. Most of the time, we get along fine (until somebody passes along some misinformation or we have third party involvement). My  children and I were in the healing process together and we were learning to be a new family, embrace life, love and worship God, build a new life. This is the good stuff. 

See, for so long I had been weighted down in my every day existence by the nightmare of living that had become our 'relationship plus others' that I couldn't breathe without wondering what the next curve ball would bring.

Suddenly, there was morning after mourning, breaking through night like a new day and I was alive, alert, and ready to heal; live, fly, forgive, move on, embrace my children; the future, the right now.

Oh my goodness - look at all the good stuff that is available for us. Even for you. Let's take a moment and just breathe, and heal.

Friday, September 2, 2011

When It's Cold Outside

The unemployment rate is at about 20% among African Americans today (that's for real with reported and unreported). Money is one of the biggest contributing reasons for divorce. Theoretically, this means more African Americans should be experiencing divorce than ever in our society.

This statistic is strange to me, because it seems that when things are at there very worse, you should want someone to hold on to and encourage you when it's cold outside. The reality is that many men feel pressure and shame when they are unable to find "suitable" employment in an economy like this to take care of their family, whether their spouse is working or not. Tension can build incredibly with the pressure either spouse may feel from the mounting bills, unkind economy, stress, and pent up frustrations.  The truth is, everything doesn't work out like a Tyler Perry play with a couple good gospel songs and an apology.

If I were to counsel anybody who had an ear to hear who was on the verge of divorce right now, I would tell them these things:

Remember your first love. Think about how you first loved each other. When you commit to be married to another person, it is not always about the pictured romance of movie and book fables. It is about the ability to support each other when the facade of greatness is gone; when the outside appearance of grandeur has been stripped away and you can only see each others weaknesses. Then let love abide.

Fight for your marriage. Remember the sanctity of the union. You may believe you have outgrown each other, but you have not outgrown God or the promises you made before Him. If there is any way to do it without denigrating or belittling each other, honor the vows you made. Agree to both be in the fight. Everybody's situation is different. Only you know why your marriage may end in divorce; but it doesn't have to be that way. Not everybody has irreconcilable differences.

Pray earnestly, and together. Pray for each other and for your marriage. Admit your fears and shortcomings one to another and pray without ceasing. Find a group of prayer partners who will pray you through. Be ready for change, because if you  want your marriage to survive and thrive, you are going to have to embrace a new way of living and loving. What you were doing before was not working - that is how you ended up where you are now.

Communication - Keep communicating with your spouse. Remember that you do not hate this person. There may be times during this experience when you cannot, realistically, speak to them at all. Accept those emotions for what they are, but don't let them turn into hatred. Forgiveness is for you, not for them.

Can a divorced woman give advice to married folks? Yes, I can, because I walked through a valley you don't know anything about yet. I walked through it with grace abounding, and two things got me through it with victory: obedience and forgiveness. I definitely fought the good fight of faith before I became a black, divorced and virtuous.