Welcome back, friends.
I’ve wanted to blog for months now and can’t quite get it together. Do I share the mundane aspects of life that I find amazing because I see God’s light in them? Do I tell the world about the blessings I continue to receive? Do I share the hard times and heartache I walk myself in to, and the amazing grace of God that walks me out? I’ve traveled recently and can’t help but want to share my travels with you like in days past. I want to share all of those things, but I feel like there is a gap between where my blog was, and where I am. I feel like I need to fill that gap instead of asking people to jump over it. I feel like I need to finish the story I was telling before, and connect the dots to today, but there’s a problem. The girl who used to write this blog no longer exists. The sometimes carefree life of hers that is written and documented in these archives is over. I could tell you those stories with perfect clarity, but they wouldn’t be joyful – they would be sad. They would be missing something. Some ONE. The woman who writes this blog NOW has a problem with that.
Here’s the problem… I think about my former travels and I think of who shared them with me. Every beautiful sight I saw, every road driven or (more often) walked down, every flight, every hike, every stamp in my passport, every story contains him. The one I don’t speak of, and try very hard not to think about. You know him (or don’t) as Cali, a.k.a. “The guy with tattoos on his face” a.k.a. “The guy (I) left (my) kids for” a.k.a. the most influential man who has ever been in my life. Most of you don’t know him at all, and some of you thought you knew him but didn’t. I don’t know him anymore, and sometimes I wonder if I ever really got the real him anyway. Regardless of whether or not I knew him, I spent nearly every day within arm’s length of him for a few years. We went on fantastic adventures (this blog has always been named Fantastic Voyage of 2). We saw magical sights, and had conversations I won’t forget ever. We experienced things that most people will never experience. We traveled the United States, and a few other countries. Together. Always together. So many of my firsts, bests, and onlys were with (or because of) him. When I have memories of things that made me truly happy in my past, he is almost always there. I don’t remember much from being a child, and my marriage was a tragedy… so when it comes to memories, the ones that have him in them come up more often than any others. I swam mainstream and popular when left to my own devices before him. I’ve never been creative or fresh, however fun and refreshing I was. I was a following leader. Read: I recognized a trailblazer when I saw one, and went after it, but I took my own group of followers with me. I was popular and “out in front,” but I wasn’t really the one in charge. Middle man, but also face of the campaign, if you will. And so very comfortable. Choosing to follow Cali changed my life. I never said no, even when I wasn’t sure what would come next. I was challenged and frequently pushed out of my comfort zone. I committed and followed through. I received many rewards. I didn’t feel like a failure even when I didn’t succeed. I knew joy and love. I grew. I learned. I taught. I discovered. I left behind and pushed forward. I believed in him and his ability to lead me (us) through whatever came our way. I had faith that every decision he made was the right one, no matter how uncomfortable or upset or confused it made me. Waiting because he said wait was always the right thing to do, even when I wanted nothing more than nownowNOW. Who I was in his eyes was the most important thing I could ever be. Who he said I was became who I really was. I loved him with so much of me… I had a huge hole in my life – my heart – that needed filling, and Cali was big. So big.
Now I know I made a huge mistake (even though the mistake worked out for the best). If you reread the last paragraph and replace “Cali” with “God,” it describes how I strive to live now. How I should have lived all along. How we should all be able to describe our lives. Cali even told me himself after we split up and he began following Christ, that the way I lived for him is the way we should all live for God. Talk about slap in the face… Fact is, I treated a man like a God. It may not have always been easy, but I made the daily decision to follow him according to his rule. His word. I thought about him before deciding anything. I considered him when talking to friends or family. I didn’t speak ill of him (well, nothing I wouldn’t say TO him). I didn’t say anything when he wasn’t around that he wouldn’t find pleasing if he were right next to me. I messed up now and then, but I have never been harder on myself than I was in those times until he forgave me. And he did. Every time. Even when I didn’t deserve it. I did what he said to do. I turned my life over to him. I looked to him for everything… and it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I thought leaving him almost 2 years ago was the hardest. No. I thought completely cutting him out of my life a year ago was. Still no.
For a while, I thought he hardest thing I’d ever do was to do the same thing for the God I love that I did for a man. Even knowing that every blessing that came from that relationship came from God, and knowing that every thanks I gave Cali was deserved by God, I still have trouble. Sometimes, I get food in my mouth before I think to thank God for it. Frequently, if I get upset I’ll say something I shouldn’t before I stop and ask God for help. Every now and then I find myself in a place I wouldn’t be had I asked God if I should go. I have modified my language and hardly ever swear, but I struggle with finding words that fit some situations better than the ones frequented by sailors. Living my daily life as a Christ-follower is HARD. Remembering when I was a Cali-follower and how easy it seemed to come, has been known to bring me to tears. How could I follow a MAN so easily and have such a hard time following GOD? (I call it easy now, but at least a few of you know I had a struggle or two.) How could I live every day by a set of rules I didn’t necessarily understand, doing daily rituals I may not have time for that I did anyway because it was part of life, being molded into something different from what I was before and accepting it even when the world was against it… and not do the same for God? I’ve never wanted anything more in my life than I want to be a good and faithful servant to the Author and Finisher of my life. I’ve never been as willing to commit to something. I’ve never realized a greatness bigger than God, or a more constant force. But I STILL can’t seem to let go of certain pieces of myself and just be who He created me to be. The pieces that think I know better. .. the pieces that think I can do it by my own strength… I spent a good portion of 5 years serving someone I treated like a God, and now I look forward to spending eternity serving the One who really is. And it’s not so hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty tough, and I’m still not super good at it, but it’s still not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Today, I say the hardest thing I’ve ever done is live for God under the watchful eyes of those who know who I was. Key word: was. The people who were there with me in the trenches of my previous life. The people who “know” me. The people who have seen me commit and quit… Some of those people call my love for God a fad. Some of them wonder when I’ll quit doing “the God thing” like I quit doing the Josh thing or the mom thing or the doctor’s office thing or the Cali thing… Some of them like to call out my past or present choices and use them to prove I simply must be faking. Some of them are REALLY supportive and some have even been inspired by God’s work in my life and have come to him themselves. I thought loving a man with facial tattoos and wearing a skirt in public was hard… publicly loving God is way harder. Hardest ever. And way worth it.
I don’t say any of that to complain. I am so incredibly thankful I went to what I call the University of Cali. I learned so much and grew more than I even know. I came out of that relationship so much more prepared to take on the world and live life. He did so much for me and I will forever thank him and give glory to God for all of it. Good and bad. If I hadn’t experienced that school of life with him, I wouldn’t have ended up in the place of being on my knees at the feet of God begging him to take me. (see THIS Blog for back story – if you’re new to my life you won’t be sorry.) However, just because I can appreciate his place in my life doesn’t mean I want to talk about him or think about him. I’m still hurting and I’m still healing. I do talk about it, but I’m not gonna here. I tell you this so that I don’t have to fill the gap, and I can move on with my blog. Jesus fills the gap, and his work in my life fills the hole in my story. I will share the testimony of how God met me where I was to lead me to my amazing church home (Celebration Church in Georgetown, TX), and took away my fear of becoming who I was MADE to be instead of who I was led to be. Being a willing and fulfilled follower of God is hard, but I’m not scared of it anymore. Following Cali made me unafraid to live boldly for myself – following God made me unafraid to live boldly for Him.
Jeremiah 17:5 This is what the lord says: “Cursed are those that put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.”
Jeremiah 17:9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
This cross is heavy, and sometimes I have a hard time picking it up. I get weak and want to follow my heart… In those times, I get to show and tell the world how strong my God is, and let Him guide my heart.
I’ve had people tell me it’s a miracle I’ve made it through my life in as good a shape as I’m in, and they’re right. It IS a miracle. A series of them, actually. And if people look at my life and see miracles, I know they are seeing Christ whether they recognize Him, or not… and I’m more than ok with that.
Stay tuned. Stay classy. Be blessed.