When the right choice is the painful one: My lesson through divorce

I hesitate writing this blog post.

I stare at a bright screen while sitting here in a shadowy hotel room overlooking the Snake River. I wanted to talk about this a while ago, but fear set in. A crippling fear actually that told me I’d lose most of my blog readers just as I’ve lost some friends already and even some family. And I might lose some, I realize that. But tonight, after the hardest day of my life, all I want to do is write. Regardless of perception.

About a month ago my husband and I filed for divorce.

I won’t go into the reasons, but the decision wasn’t made lightly. It wasn’t made overnight. And it came with many tears, hurtful words, and cries on bended knees. It came after wrestlings with God, anger at the world, and heart-to-heart conversations with nothingness long after the world went to sleep.

Needless to say, the decision was a right one.

And yet…

Yet I still feel the pain.

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I lay here with reddened eyes that burn like fire, a stomach that twists and churns, and eyes that keep wandering to the river that my husband and I used to walk with our dog. Today I came back into town to get the rest of my things piled into a U-Haul before I make the trek back to my home state of Washington. The sadness I felt as I pulled away from the driveway for the last time was excruciating. There was my husband of four years who I deeply care for, left with an empty house, some nails on the wall where pictures once hung, and eyes full of tears. I felt awful. Yet I pushed the gas on the U-Haul and rounded the corner, reminding myself of my conviction and the answer I had received and he had received shortly after.

 

I have lost people through this process who disagree with divorce and who have boldly told me that Satan has his grip on me and this choice would never be of God. I’ve lost people I’ve loved with my husband mutually for four years who have decided that I must have lost my mind when this decision was made. I have lost a lovely house. Friends. Two bunnies we had to sell today. A community. A darling neighborhood with sweet neighbors. A marriage.  In-laws. My upcoming chance at motherhood through adoption. Respect of some of those around me who stand on the outside looking in.

Yet even now, through burning eyes, I want to speak to you of what I have gained.

I know one of you need it–that there’s a reason behind why I write tonight.

Sometimes, I have decided, to truly follow the plan of happiness, you have to trek through the valley of sadness.

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You have to sometimes make a decision that breaks your heart into a million pieces. You have to sometimes lose everything to rebuild something. You have to sometimes face the world completely alone with their jeers and their snide comments and their turned backs and decide to keep walking anyway. You have to sometimes smile through the tears. You have to sometimes completely and fully trust your inner compass, even while standing in the dark and fighting the urge to flee. You have to sometimes tell your complacency to take a hike, and go forth fearlessly anyway.

The greatest pain comes right before the greatest joy.

But it can be hard to remember that.

After leaving Idaho several weeks ago, I met with my bishop at my church to get some advice and to let him in on how I was feeling. He asked hard questions and dissected what was going on and finally gave me a knowing look. He asked me if I know about the atonement.

Of course I do, I responded.

And that’s when he proceeded to tell me that too often we see Christ’s atonement as a remedy for the sinner and the lost and the ones who choose wrong. What we fail to remember though, is that Christ also felt the pains of those who follow spiritual promptings and choose to do what is right, even at the cost of persecution and great pain.

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His sacrifice, he reminded me, covers the heartache that comes when choosing the right path also means choosing the rocky and thorny one–sometimes totally and utterly alone.

He knew, better than anyone else in the history of mankind as he carried out His father’s will, that the most difficult path often leads to the most beautiful destination. His choice was a difficult one, but He trusted that what was up ahead would be far greater than standing still.

It requires courage. And bravery. And honesty.

It calls out for identifying your self-worth and your purpose and your reason for coming to earth. It demands that you remember who you are in the grand scheme of things and that you can trust Heavenly Father’s plan, even when you can’t see too far ahead.

I know for a fact I can’t see too far right now. I feel incredibly blind.

Right now all I can see is the computer screen. And the river in the moonlight. And the flash of a lone TV against the wall. And that’s about it. Not even going to lie.

But I do trust a few things. I trust that the sun will rise. That Heavenly Father has my back. That I’ll keep breathing in and out and my feet will hit the floor when I wake.

And I trust that because I listened to the still-small voice, even amidst the sorrow, tomorrow will be better. And so will the day after that.

And joy will come.

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I hope that you, wherever you are or whatever you are going through, will take hold of your compass and follow its arrow and trust Him while in the dark.

You don’t have to run or take short cuts or even smile through it all.

You just have to keep moving.

And remember that the man who walked the path first walks it again right now–with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ll go where you want me to go

I can’t believe it’s been two and a half years already since I sat on a curb–barefoot in the rain, mind you–asking God a very important *URGENT* question.

Why am I here?!

And no, I wasn’t asking him one of those philosophical “Why am I here and where am I going?” questions. I was simply just one of those frowny kids with my arms crossed, sitting on a curb outside my parents’ duplex in a small town that borders Seattle, sitting not quite far enough down the street so that I could still see the light in the little bedroom that was now mine and my husband’s only real estate.

Yeah. It sucked.

Four months after getting married, we were in a tough spot. I was graduated with no great job offers being sent my way and our rent was about to be due. Matt was a janitor on campus in between his credits and that was enough to maybe buy us cereal–that we would eventually ration out, no doubt. We couldn’t stay. Every morning and every night it was the same prayer. Please send me a job. Please provide for us. I was sending out resumes left and right, desperate to stay in a town we grew to love. Please, God. I won’t ask for anything EVER again. (That never works, by the way).

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But no job came. Instead, a prompting. It was a prompting I shooed away for a solid week before Matt called me one day after his class and said confidently, “We need to move to Seattle.”

And I knew right away he was right because I had been feeling that–very intensely–for a good week. But everything in my body and soul said no. I had no job lined up there, cost of living is ridiculous, all my childhood friends are moved away from there anyway, and Matt was about to be accepted into the Nursing program and wasn’t even close to being done with school. It seemed like an all-around terrible idea.

But two weeks, one U-Haul, and one 14-hour trip (with a bunny cage on my lap) later, we were moving into a room in my parent’s place. Jobless, school-less, penniless.

Why did you ask me to come here?!

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I will never forget asking that out loud, face to the sky. Please, show me soon why I’m here. I’ll go where you want me to go, I remember saying, but I have no idea why it was here.

I never got a clear answer.

But just a few months later I was given a job that taught me so much. And then another one that was even better after that. Matt was accepted into nursing school. I got to be a primary teacher and then a counselor. I met some amazing people who will be friends for life. I learned about who I am when I have nothing. I started my blog. I picked up a camera again for the first time since college and started my photography business. We learned about what it feels like to be on food stamps and the hard work it takes to pay some pretty expensive bills. Six months after moving in my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Six months after that he was gone. And we were here for all of it.

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It seems pretty clear in retrospect.

That’s how it tends to be in life. Heavenly Father will whisper to our hearts to go somewhere, to do something, to SAY something–and most of the time we stand like statues in the dark, hesitant to take that first step because…what if we fall? His timeline seems long and jagged and his reasons seem crazy most of the time. His will is often deemed unfair and his directions unnerving. And yet faith will allow us to say, “I’ll go”. And we’ll get to a point where we look back and notice that there is never one clear answer from the sky. Rather there is an accumulation of lessons, blessings, mercies, graces, and safety nets along the way.

Just a couple months ago Matt and I both felt like it was time to move out of state again. And this time–go figure–I’m still terrified. But Heavenly Father has this way of surprising us–of giving us a “hey I get it !” moment at the end of it all where we’re so grateful that we just shut up and listened.

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Sometimes going where He asks is scarier than moving states. Sometimes it’s leaving a relationship or leaving a job. Sometimes it’s deciding to serve a mission or deciding not to. Sometimes it’s starting a family. Or a new career path. Or tithing after a hard paycheck and tight budget. But it’s always about moving our feet even when every instinct and every fiber of our being yells, “But why?!”

Because just like the truth that’s echoed in a simple–yet beautiful hymn– He will call me (and you) with that still small voice to places where we do not know. It’ll be dark. And we might never get an answer.

But I hope to always answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:

I’ll go where you want me to go.
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