People vs. Love

keep out

I was talking with a friend recently.  For the sake of this post I shall name this friend Erin.  Erin is an great friend to many around her.  She is a devoted spouse and parent.  She is a positive influence.  But Erin is wearing a mask.  But, honestly, aren’t we all wearing some form of mask?  We are one person with our family . . . hopefully that is the most true version of ourselves.  We are another person with friends, and still yet another person with our co-workers.

Masks come from a deep-seated insecurity.  Every morning we wake up and put on the mask of the person that we want others to see and to like because we are afraid that the person that really lives inside our skin is not good enough.

Erin is very good at wearing her mask.  Yet as I was talking with her recently she slowly took her mask off.  I could tell that it terrified her to do so, but once the mask was off I was blessed to meet the real woman inside my friend.  She is wounded and afraid.  She is insecure and filled with doubt.  She is beautiful and broken.  She is filled with shame, doubt, and guilt.  But even deeper than that is a desire to rise above it all and make a better life than what she has ever known.  It was an honor to be one of the few people that have truly seen inside Erin’s heart and soul, and because she took that risk with me, someone that she has not known but for a short while, I am indebted to her for her level of trust in me.

I have been where Erin is.  I have lived through ugly things that left me hating myself, doubting myself, and feeling unworthy of anything good in my life.  I have been beaten down verbally, mentally, and emotionally by others and by my own hand.  I have looked at myself in the mirror and hated the person looking back at me.  I have been empty and searching for someone or something that would fill the void that seemed to be nothing but a black hole.

All of that stems from love, though.  An old friend once told me that he gave up on people because they were always walking out of his life.  I was eventually one of the people that walked out of his life, too.  But he was never willing to invest himself into a relationship.  Without that investment from him, people had nothing to hang on to.  He was so scared of being hurt that he built a wall around himself to keep people out and then wondered why nobody stayed in his life.  He was unwilling to make the choice to love, and no relationship can stand with only one leg.  Relationships of any kind are a team effort.

No matter what Hallmark cards and romantic-comedies lead us to believe, love is a choice.  Love is something we wake up every single day and choose to give and take.  Love is not an emotion that magically grows in the heart the way that my sunflowers grow in my garden each summer.  One day we look at a person and we make the decision to love them, to accept their quirks and idiosyncrasies, to take off our mask and be real with them, and maybe even get them to take off their mask, too.  But, conversely, sometimes we wake up and decide to stop loving that person.  Love is a choice.

Here’s the thing though, we can not give or take love until we make the biggest decision regarding love.  We must decide to love ourselves.  The friend with the wall built around himself saw little worth within himself.  He didn’t feel good enough to be loved, and thus he saw himself as flawed and broken.  He didn’t love himself enough to be willing or able to take the risk on loving someone else.  Because of that, he spent a very long time alone and unhappy which made him dislike himself even more.  The only reason I was in his life for as long as I was, and the only reason I made the decision to love him, was because I saw behind his mask.  I pushed my way into his life.  I scaled his wall, and earned his trust, and eventually his (guarded) love.  But love was the reason I had to walk away.

Erin is in a similar boat.  But where the walled-heart friend was unwilling to let people into his life, Erin is open to those healthy and fulfilling relationships.  Erin is unable to see in herself what those around her can see in her.  She is terrified of becoming the person that scares her the most . . . the woman she hates, the woman she can’t forgive, the woman that caused hurt to others . . . the woman she used to be.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t fear becoming the woman I used to be.  There have been times where my past has come back to haunt me.  It has happened within the last couple of weeks, and that is something that I am struggling with, because I know that I am not the person I was three years ago.  I am not the person I was one year ago.  But the person I used to be is always lingering in the shadows waiting for her opportunity to come back to the forefront.  But every single day I wake up and make the decision to keep the old Heather in her place, and I make the decision to love myself more that I loved the things of my past.

In coming to see myself as someone worthy of my own love and the love of others I had to make one gigantic, and nearly impossible, decision.  I had to see that I was worthy of forgiveness.  When I was able to see that and then forgive myself, I was able to go to the people that I hurt and ask for their forgiveness.  My husband was one of those people, and I honestly did not expect him to forgive me, but his did, and it was in that moment that I saw how much he chose to love me, and in that moment I was also able to finally see that I am worthy of being loved.  That is when I started to finally love myself.

Erin is not a bad person.  I am not a bad person.  My walled-heart friend is not a bad person.  YOU are NOT a bad person.  We are all good people.  The thing about people though is that we sometimes make some really stupid decisions.  Those decisions can lead to anger, regret, guilt, and self-loathing.

You are not defined by the stupid decisions you have made.

I am not defined by the fact that I cheated on my husband.  I am defined by one simple and immovable fact . . . I am a forgiven, redeemed, and LOVED daughter of God.  He loved me even when I thought I was the worst person in the world.  He loved me even when I was cheating on my husband.  He loved me in my darkest moments, and he knew that one day I know his love for me and that would be enough to fill the black hole in my soul.  As soon as I was able to accept His love for me I was finally able to see my worth to him, and love myself.

Erin is still looking at herself through her own eyes.  I’ve been there.  But one day Erin will hopefully wake up and look in the mirror and see a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman.  One day Erin will hopefully wake up and see herself through God’s eyes instead of her own.  One day Erin will hopefully wake up and see the woman that God is shaping her to be instead of the woman that Erin is fighting to leave in the past.  One day Erin will hopefully wake up and the choice will be made to love herself.

Do you love yourself?  If not, what is holding you back?  Isn’t it time you look in the mirror and finally see the person staring back at you is a good person, a decent person, a person that is worthy of your love?

chess

Until next time . . .

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Looking back

We’re a few days into 2016.  Christmas decorations have come down.  Resolutions have been made . . . and broken.  The grownups have gone back to work and the kids have gone back to school.  We’re settling into the peaceful post-holiday time where we don’t have to worry about anything (until Valentine’s Day).
But taking a moment to look back at the year gone by . . . 2015 was a crazy, wonderful, eye-opening, life-changing year.  2015 was filled with so many reason to give thanks to God, to praise Him for his unending love and grace . . .

My husband got his 1-year chip from Celebrate Recovery.
One of my best friends became my brother in Christ.
That same friend was brought by God to a wonderful woman, and they are now man and wife.
Through God I finally found the strength to let a very toxic relationship go and admit that I am an enabler.
I learned to trust God and step out of my comfort zone.
God showed me the mask of false salvation that I was wearing, and while surrounded by my amazing church family I found true salvation in Jesus Christ, and then followed Christ in believers baptism.
God it my past experience to work when my son experienced his first seizure, and blessed me with strong prayer from wonderful friends, and several people who made sure nothing kept Nathan from getting the medical help he needed.
God lead me to Celebrate Recovery to finally start letting go of the issues that have been holding me back.  On December 18th I picked up my blue chip.

Yes, 2015 had plenty of stormy moments also.  Anger, sadness, disappointment, heartbreak.  But it was those moments that made God’s blessings that much sweeter.  Praise be to God.  He is so good.

Until next time . . .

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 30 – Something You Are Excited For

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There are lots of things to get excited about.  When you were a kid you got excited about your birthday and Christmas.  When you were a teenager you got excited about school dances and first dates.  As an adult you got excited about your wedding day, the birth of a child, landing your dream job, and buying your first home.
Things to get excited about are around us all the time.  Sometimes they slap us right in the face, like a surprise pay raise.  Sometimes they are an event down the road, like a planned vacation.
We get excited over things we care about.  And today I am very excited about something.

Day 30 – Something you are excited for

My dear friend, Brian, is getting baptized in a little over a week.  He told me yesterday afternoon, and the joy of his news brought me to tears, because he is no longer just my close friend.  Now Brian is my bother in Christ.
Knowing that when God calls us to Heaven our friendship will continue, knowing that my friend recognized that he had a hole in his life that only God can fill, knowing that through God’s amazing grace my friend is no longer lost in Satan’s grip . . . how could I not be excited?
Yesterday, after he told me the news, I was practically bouncing off the walls.  I made frantic calls to my husband, and to my friend, Jenny.  I could barely get the words out to them because I just wanted to scream in praise and joy to our Almighty God.  Even now I just want to jump up and down, clap, sing, laugh, and shout praises of thanks to the One who saved my soul, and has saved the soul of my friend and brother.
My God is mighty to save!
Hallelujah!
Until next time . . .

30 Day Writing Challenge: Day 3 – Your First Love and Your First Kiss

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Today’s writing challenge topic is actually something I covered, in part, a few days ago.  Today though requires a little bit of expansion on that previous post, and requires me to delve into dusty but sweet memories.

Day 3:  Your First Love and Your First Kiss

Young love.  It’s a beautiful and magical thing.  Feeling your heart race at the sight of the cute boy at school.  Hoping he’ll notice you.  Hoping he’ll ask you to the school dance.  You have no fear of the future or the relationship because you have never experienced the pain of a broken heart.  A first love is like the magical first days of Spring when everything is warm, colorful, full of life, and full of possibility.
I met Bill in the Spring.
I was 13 years old, in 7th grade, and the new student in school.  It was April, 1990.  My best friend, Molly, was going out with a boy named Bill.  I had been hearing about him for months, and he seemed nice enough when I finally got to meet him on my first day at Kirby Junior High School.  I quickly developed a quiet little crush.
He and I did not get along though.
Bill was blonde, had beautiful blue eyes, was a good boy, and was smart.  He was the kind of boy all parents love.
It took several months for he and I to become friends.  By then he and and Molly had broken up in typical fleeting teenage relationship fashion.  We got to where we talked on the phone everyday after school.  We wrote notes to each other.  I fell in love as much as a 13 year old girl is capable of.  All of our friends knew I liked him, and suspected that he liked me as well.
In February, 1991 glitter rained down on my world, angels sang, clouds parted, and the most monumental event in my entire 14 years old life happened.  Bill asked me out!  We were dating!  It was official.  He and I were TOGETHER!  I was sure that nothing would ever top that moment.  I was also absolutely positive that Bill and I would be together forever.
Our relationship was filled with teenage drama.  His parents didn’t really like me.  They tolerated me for a short while, but eventually made him break up with me.  We got back together, broke up again, got back together again, and broke up again.  All of that took place over 6 months.  Finally his parents begrudgingly let Bill and I remain friends.
During those 6 months we were as cute as any teenage couple could be.  We held hands in the halls at school, kissed between classes, wrote notes to each other all the time, talked on the phone all the time.  He was the first boy I slowed danced with.  It was during the Valentine’s Day dance in the school gym.  Romantic!
A few weeks after he and I started going out (the first time) I threw a surprise birthday party for a friend.  All of our friends were there.  There was music, laughing, and everybody had a fun time.  As any teenage party will do, it eventually calmed down.  Music was still on, but lights got turned down.  People found comfy lounging spots on couches and the floor, and we sat around talking and giggling.  At one point somebody said something to got me very embarrassed.  I got up and ran out of the room and hid in another.  Bill came to find me.  We stood in that dark room, alone, talking for a couple of minutes, and then he leaned toward me.  Before I even had time to think he kissed me.  It wasn’t a little peck on the cheek or anything.  It was a kiss.  A real kiss.  The kind of kiss that you never forget, ever.  It was sweet, beautiful, tender, and loving.  It was amazing.  It was perfect, the most perfect kiss I’ve ever had in all my life.
When it was over I was speechless, which never happens to this chatterbox.
That night was the first time I said “I love you” to Bill.
We stayed friends throughout high school.  We even went to the Homecoming dance together our Sophomore year.  We continued to write notes to each other, and to talk on the phone.  We talked about what we each wanted to do with our respective futures.  He wanted to be an engineer.  I wanted to be a writer.  He had such faith in my writing that he was positive that I was going to famous for it someday.
He went on to date other girls, and I went on to date other boys.  But for me, nobody compared to the first boy I loved, the first boy I kissed.  Nobody compared to the boy with blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes that I fell in love with when I was 13 years old.  Nobody compared to Bill.
Until next time . . .

When will healing come?

2 weeks as of today.  That’s how long this mess has been unfolding everyday at work.  With each day that passes more misdeeds come to light.  Lies told.  Money stolen.  People hurt.  And each day, and each revelation, seems to continue to be worse than the one before.  How much lower can it get?  Was there no point at which the offender said, “maybe this is taking all of this too far?”  With as far down as everything went, that is further that we, the remaining staff, are having to climb back up.  And just when we think we’ve made it up a few feet and maybe everything is leveling off along comes another blow that knocks the station back down.
Morale at my radio station sucks right now.  Everyone is so discouraged, angry, and broken hearted.  You can see in everyone’s eyes the protective mental armor that comes from extended periods of disappointment and disbelief.  Nobody is capable of raising their eyes up, because to look up means that we may see more hidden misdeeds coming to light.  We all talk quietly like we’re at a funeral, and in a way we are in mourning.  The person we knew, and the way of life at the station, is dead.  We are now in a position to find our own way through the mess he created, and we are angry.  We are very angry.  He name has become a curse word worse than the longest string of f-bombs.  We struggle to get through each day without running into something we are having to clean up because of him.
2 weeks ago he was loved.  2 weeks ago he was respected.  2 weeks ago he was a member of our work family, someone we were positive we could turn to for advice and support.  And then the truth came out about what he had been doing behind our backs.  How could we all have been so blind?  How could we not see this coming?  Were there no signs?  Sure, we can see the signs now, but hindsight is always 20/20.
I am so confused right now.  I am angry.  I am disappointed.  I feel betrayed.  And I feel guilty for feeling all of those things.  I know I should forgive him for everything, but right now I just can’t.  Just when I think I am able to forgive him, something else comes out that he did, and I get kicked down again.  By giving voice to these feelings, and by not making my peace with him and not forgiving him, I am giving strength to the negativity this situation has caused.  And the negativity is running rampant through the station right now like the nastiest toxic waste.  Will we ever be able to get out of it?  Will we ever be able to recover and have a day that his actions do not cloud?
I want to forgive him.  I don’t want to be angry at him anymore.  I want to stop caring about the man I though he was so that I can pray for the recovery of the man he actually is.  I want to know that he feels honestly remorseful for the things he did.  I want him to own up to everything and apologize.  I guess what I am still searching for is the closure that may will eventually come in time.  Just when I think closure may be possible something else happens to steal it away.
When a loved one passes away an important part of the grieving process is to actually see the body, because then our brain can accept the fact that the person is gone, and the mourning process is shortened.  By not seeing the body, our brain can continue to live in denial about the persons passing, and the mourning process takes longer to get through.  That is why funeral visitations are so important.  They give the opportunity to say goodbye.  I haven’t gotten to say goodbye.  I hear these things about this man, but without hearing him say it himself my brain doesn’t want to believe it.  My mourning process is slow in getting to the acceptance stage.  I miss him.  No matter what he did to me, to my coworkers, to the station, I miss him.  I miss him very much, and it fucking hurts!  I want to scream and yell at him.  I want to hurt him as much as this whole situation has hurt me and my coworkers.  I want to hate him.  I want to be able to say, “if I saw him right now it’s knock his ass out,” or “I am completely done with him forever,” like my coworkers do.  But I can feel that way, or say those things.  Because truth be told, if I saw him right now I would probably give him a hug, and try to talk to him.  I would offer him support and help.  Something inside that man is broken, and there is nothing I can do to help him fix it.  I am completely powerless, and I hate it.  I hate everything about this entire situation.  I want my workplace to go back to where it was 2 weeks ago, even if we were all blind to the truth.
When will the hurt in my heart go away?  When will I no longer worry about what may happen to him?  When will I no longer want to cry?  When, when, WHEN will healing come?

A letter that will never get read

This is the fourth time I’ve tried to start this post.  Will this one meet with the delete button also?

I need to sit down and talk with someone that I care about very much.  But due to circumstances involved with the situation I may never be given that opportunity.  When my dad was going through the worst of his drug addiction several years ago he and I wrote letters back and forth.  He was in prison in Missouri, and I was living in Paducah by that time.  Talking on the phone was not an option.  Instead I vented so much anger out to him via pen and paper, but through those letters we worked through the issues that his addiction had caused between us, and started on the way to forgiveness.

The situation that is before me now is very similar to the my dad’s, but this has hurt me in a much different way because I may not ever really get the chance to say to the person what I want or need to.  I may not get that opportunity for closure that communication brings.  I am going to try though with the following “letter” that may be as close as I will ever get to speaking with that person again.  For the record, the inability to speak to the person is not by my choice.  It is just because of the situation itself.  I’ve thought about reaching out to the person, but I doubt it would be welcomed by that person, or by others involved.  At the moment my hands are tied and my mouth is muzzled.

Dear friend,

Allow me to begin by saying that no matter where the road takes either of us from here I still love you.  You have been very important to me over the last few years.  You were someone that I held a great respect for, and I believe that you felt the same way about me.  I felt very valued in your life, and you always went out of your way to make sure that I never doubted that.

Recently some things came to light about you that have affected everyone involved with the situation.  Some are angry.  Some are sad.  Some are numb with shock.  I have been all of these in the last few days.  I don’t know what made you do the things you did, but I want you to know that I have already forgiven you for what you did to me.

Friend, you are a good person at heart, and even good people can make poor decisions.  But those poor decisions do not define who we are.  I have faith that you will eventually be able to find your way out of this, and hopefully be stronger because of it.  There are suspicions of your past coming back to haunt you.  I pray that it’s not true, but if it is, I pray that you get the help you need to put it where it belongs . . . back in the past.

There are reminders of you everywhere I look, and with the pain of what you did so fresh, you name is one everybody’s lips.  It hurts me to hear others speak of you the way they do.  I know they expect me to be angry and unforgiving, but without giving forgiveness then how do we begin to heal and move on?  I don’t believe you are a bad person.  I believe you just made a wrong turn and got lost.  It’s time to turn around and find your way back, Friend.

No matter what happens always remember that you have my forgiveness, and that I believe in you to work past anything you are going through.  I am always here for you.

Heather

Now please excuse me.  I need to cry.

Until next time . . .

I can’t delete me

Recently there was a huge misunderstanding within my church.  A few people said somethings (myself included) about the leadership of the church.  I sided with some people without getting the entire story.  I wrote a post about the event while still in the heat of the moment, but the very next day was convicted by an unlikely person that maybe I needed to hear the other side of the story before taking any further action.

I met with the pastor of my church and heard the rest of the story.  Needless to say, I did not leave my church after all.  I apologized to my pastor, his wife, the leadership team, and many others that I hurt directly or indirectly.

Since then it has been suggested to me by a friend that I remove the offending post.  I have thought on it for several days and am opting to leave it right where it is.  It will serve as a physical reminder to me to always get the other side of the story.  Besides, I am not perfect.  Nobody is.  I am a collection of all of my experiences . . . good ones, bad ones, stupid ones, and not-so-stupid ones.  To remove that post would be to delete a small part of what has made me who I am.  I can’t delete any other experience, so why would I delete that one poorly thought out post?

I have learned from the experience, and am working to apply its lesson to my life even now.  That is what we do.  We learn from everything.

Until next time . . .

But Now I See (poem)

How is it possible to see through closed eyes
To live always in the dark
Then to open your eyes, be filled with light
And have the truth flood your heart
Was the truth always in front of my eyes
Or was it hiding away unseen
Was it ignored because it would hurt
To destroy an image so clean
To finally see a person
For what is really inside
To see the truth beneath their masquerade
And to learn they’re actually a lie
All the words that once had meaning
Are now quicksand beneath their feet
As I question everything about their life
And what it says about me
Opened eyes blinded by truth
Are closed once again
As I can finally see what hides inside
Someone I called a friend
Manipulative words and a deceiving heart
With loyalty that lies nowhere
My eyes have been opened and see you clear
For the chameleon hiding in thin air

By:  Carrie Leigh
12.15.14

My testimony

I’ll be honest and tell you that this post is proving difficult to write.  My brain and fingers have both told me that I need to write something today, but this is the third attempt.  The previous two attempts met their fate with the delete button.

Like many people I have the Time Hop app on my phone.  It’s a fun little app that lets you see your Facebook and Instagram posts from this day over the last several years.  Usually I just laugh at the dumb stuff I post . . . song lyrics, goofy conversations with my friends or my son, silly pictures . . . stuff like that.  The last few weeks though I have been dreading the posts that I knew were coming from my past.

Sunday marked one-year since I decided to go full-out in pursuit of a relationship with the drummer.  His real name by the way is Bobby.  Prior to meeting Bobby I had been in a physical relationship with another man for a year and a half.  Then one night my husband and I went to watch a co-worker play bass with his band.  Sitting in for them on the drum kit was a young man that, when he played, exuded energy and sexuality.  I was taken in from the moment I saw him.  The relationship between my husband and I had grown weak over the previous couple of years so I was ripe for temptation.  And, boy, did I succomb.  My world became so wrapped up with Bobby that it is only through the grace of God that my husband did not leave me.  It has not been easy to leave everything from the past year behind me.  It is never easy to let go when you have convinced yourself that you are in love with a person.

One year ago I went to work to run the board for a football game on my radio station.  I went home and took a nap and then woke up to get ready for my overnight volunteer shift a the local Lions Club telethon.  Before I went to the telethon location I lied to my husband and told him that I was leaving early to watch the telethon from the audience.  What I actually did was leave the house so I could go to a bar and watch Bobby play drums with a band that he was a member of.  Bobby knew I was coming.  He invited me to come watch him play.  I went out of my way to find a super adorable outfit, paid extra attention to my make-up, and sprayed an enticing scent on myself.  I was on a mission to let Bobby know that I was available to him.

I was the only one of his friends to show up to watch him play that night.  I sat in a spot in the audience where he would be sure to see me and didn’t take my eyes off of him the whole time he played.  In between sets he came over and sat with me and I flirted with him.  After his second set I had to leave to go the telethon.  I sat in my car and sent him a Facebook message telling him that I had a good time and thanking him for the invite.  We messaged back-and-forth for the next 26 hours.  Twenty-six hours!  It started out as simple flirting and allusions to my attraction to him, and ended up with us making plans to get together for lunch the next day.  I lied to myself a year ago and  said that it was just two friends getting together to spend their lunch together.  Today, a year later, I can say that it was a date.

We met at the agreed location for our lunch date and he met me in the parking lot with a hug.  If I hadn’t already decided it I knew in that moment that I wanted to be with Bobby.  We sat and talked for the next hour and a half.  I remember hoping that he would kiss me, and was a little disappointed that he didn’t.  I did get two more hugs and I was on cloud nine.  A few days later my conscience started to get to me.  I started trying to pull away from him.  Why?  Because I knew that I would fall in love with him if I wasn’t careful.  I wasn’t looking for somebody to hook up with on occasion.  I was looking for a relationship with him.  But there was one little detail . . . I am married and have been since October 29, 2004.

Most guys would chalk up my behavior over the next few weeks as me just being a typical crazy woman.  That is not typical behavior for me though.  I can see now that I was acting crazy then as a subconscious attempt to push him away from me because I knew that he was bad for me.  But conscious and subconscious got in a fight and the conscious won.  Bobby overlooked the crazy behavior and we became pretty good friends.  But strong feelings don’t die quickly or easily.

Over the next few months we became close friends, we’d have lunch together, text each other, I’d go watch him play.  If I was nothing else to him then I was his loyal and devoted fangirl.  But I always wanted and hoped for more.  Through all of that was more lies to my husband.  I would tell him that I had to work late or that I was meeting Brandi to hang out.  On New Years Eve I ran out on a chance to ring in the new year with my husband and son.  I told him that I was going to Brandi’s house to hang out with her and some other girls.  What I actually did was go watch Bobby play with his band again.  I spent a lot of time lying to my husband, and spent a lot of time not caring that I was lying

Then a night in February that changed everything . . . the night my friend Brandi sat with me at the station.  I had been feeling for several weeks that change was coming in my life but I couldn’t explain what kind of change, nor the source of the feeling.  All I knew what that something had to give in my life.  I woke up that morning knowing that change was coming that day.  I know now that the Lord was speaking to me, but I just didn’t recognize his voice.

Brandi sat in the studio with me at the station as I ran a basketball game and essentially pleaded with me to turn my life to God.  I tried to make excuses like, “He wouldn’t want me because I have messed up so much, ” or, “I need to fix some things in my life before I am good enough for God.”  How many people have said those words?  How many people have missed out on heaven because they thought they had messed up too much for God to forgive them?  Brandi, in tears, told me that God wanted me in that moment exactly the way I was, that I didn’t need to change to find him, that he would change me in his own ways and in his own time.  I tried again to resist the pull that had already started in my heart.  I tried to tell her about Bobby.  She already knew, and then told me that God wanted me anyway.  How can somebody refute that?

After she left the station that night I fixed my makeup and went to watch Bobby play at yet another bar, but as I sat in the dim room with loud music pounding in my ears I knew I was where I didn’t belong.  In my back pocket was a poem that I had written for Bobby and I had every intention of giving it to him.  After his second set the poem was still in my pocket as I ran out of the bar.  The change in my heart had already started but it would prove to be a long road.

The next morning I went to church with Brandi and every single word that the pastor spoke seemed aimed right at me.  To say that I felt God speaking to me would be an understatement.  I could feel God yelling at me.  I could feel him grabbing my hand and pulling me forward to him, away from the dark.  I could feel him fighting Satan for me.  I could feel him pleading with me to open my heart to him.  I couldn’t ignore him any longer.  When the pastor did the invitation I prayed and gave my life to God.  I was baptized the following Sunday.  What a beautiful and amazing experience!  There are no words to describe what that few seconds of my life meant to me.

Over the next couple of weeks I knew that I needed to get rid of all the things in my life that were trying to continue pulling me away from God.  That meant I had to tell Bobby goodbye.  What a hard fight that proved to be.  Just because God says “this is what you must do,” does not mean that it will be easy for you to do.  You just have to have faith that God will lead you through it.  Despite my new-found faith I still resisted what I knew I needed to do.  I thought I could just shut off my feelings.  By that time I knew I was in love with Bobby.  Feelings like that don’t just shut off like a light switch.  I got together with him one warm March afternoon and told him that I needed to straighten somethings out in my life, that my head was all mixed up and I needed to get it back in order.  He didn’t take it well.  He got angry.  He said some hateful things and that got me angry and made me say some hateful things back to him.  I had hoped that he would understand and give me a little time, but I knew before I got together with him that afternoon that he would react the exact way he did.  He tried to make me feel guilty by telling me that I was his best friend, and that he always knew I would walk out on him just like everybody else had done to him.  It’s sad now to be able to look back and see the way Satan was acting in my life to try to pull me away from what God wanted for me.

Two weeks . . . that’s how long I lasted before I mailed him a bundle of papers that included poems and blog posts that I had written about him, and a letter asking him to forgive me.  Yes, I was asking him to forgive me for trying to put God in my life before anything else.  That in and of itself should have served to show just how messed up I was at that time.  He accepted my apology and things went back to the way they had been . . . texting, getting together for lunch or dinner, and me being his loyal fangirl.

But the thought was always in my mind that what I was doing was wrong.  My pastor has said that what we call a gut feeling is really the Holy Spirit talking to us.

I had tried rationalizing the relationship.  I had tried telling myself that I was where God wanted me to be.  After all, God always brings people together for a reason.  I tried ignoring that thought that always lingered in my head that I needed to walk away from Bobby.  I was still lying to my husband.  I was also having to lie to my friends because they thought I had gotten him out of my life.  If you can’t be honest and open about what you are doing then you don’t need to be doing it.  I knew that then and still tried to justify what I was doing.  I was lying to myself as much as I was lying to everyone else because I was doing what I wanted instead of what I needed to do.

Then came the night in June . . .

I went to watch Bobby play at a local restaurant.  I was such a regular when he played that the wait-staff always made sure to keep “my” table available for me.  Between sets Bobby and I talked, we laughed, we joked and played.  It was a good night.  When he was all done for the evening we walked together to our cars and stood in the parking lot talking.  He told me in great detail about his “adventures” with various girls that he had hooked up with.  Before I realized what was coming out of my mouth I told him that he needed to help me find a new guy for . . . well . . . you and I both know what I wanted Bobby to find me a guy for.  In that one sentence I had completely reverted to where I was that night in November.  What Bobby said in response to my statement is what hit me like a ton of bricks as I drove home that night . . .

“What about your new-found faith and trying to be a better person?”

As I drove home that night I begged God for probably the 7-millionth time to take Bobby out of my life.  I finally recognized and owned what his influence did to me.  I was able to admit to myself that everything about that relationship was wrong and not what God wanted for me.  I prayed for God to give me the strength and ability to finally walk away for good.

I didn’t contact Bobby for three weeks.

On my way home from my bible study group I texted him to see if I could stop by.  I thought I was alright, that I was beyond everything, that I had grown and gotten strong enough in those 3 weeks to be immune to him.  Yeah, I was wrong.  For the most part he ignored me while I was at his house in lieu of his Skype session with his girlfriend.  I left knowing that I should have never gone there and with more resolved to get him out of my head, heart, and life.

I backslid 2 more times . . . in late September I sat across the street from an outdoor venue he was playing at and just listened to him play and then in mid-October I went to a restaurant he was playing at.  I sat through his first set and talked to him for a few minutes during his break.  I have also texted him a couple of times.

Bobby is the biggest weapon of temptation that Satan uses to pull me away from God.  I am getting stronger each day, but I know that for now I have to remind myself each day to stay away from him.  One day there will come a time when I won’t have to remind myself of that.  God has heard my plea to remove Bobby from my life.  He started that work almost from the minute I met Bobby.  At first I didn’t recognize it as God’s work.  Then I resisted what God was doing.  I have finally given it over to God.  I am weak and know that alone I can not resist the influence of Bobby over my life.  But with God I can do all things.

I am like a recovering drug addict.  For many months I thought I was controlling the temptation, but the temptation was controlling me.  I thought I could walk away from him anytime I wanted, but I was too weak to resist the temptation.  I thought there was nothing wrong with the lies to my husband and friends because I told myself that I wasn’t really hurting anybody.  I thought that going to watch Bobby play or sending him a text was harmless.  But any drug addict will tell you that it only takes just one more time to be caught in the downward spiral again.

This post has taken three days to write . . . one year and three days, actually . . . but it was a story that needed to come out if for nothing else than my own healing.  Now that it’s out I can once and for all put it behind me.

Until next time . . .

Carrie

Let go (poem)

I fought to make you part of my life
Then I fought to let you go
You were all I could see
You were all I wanted to know
Yours was the only music I wanted to hear
You were the only person
I wanted in my life so near
I wanted to give you all of me
I wanted to give you my heart
I wanted to be consumed by your eyes
Two lives made one in every part
How I wrapped my life around yours
How I jumped in so blind
How I risked everything
for what I can finally leave behind
My eyes are clear and open
My heart no longer in your hands
Once you were all I wanted
I slipped away like wind blowing sand
I don’t look back with anger
There is no hatred in my heart
You and I were simply what was
Something temporary meant to part
A year later I can finally let you go
Let the curtain come down on that act of my life
We were a chapter that reached its end
I can finally tell you goodbye
By: Carrie Leigh
11.04-05.14