A Thing Called Hope

DaringtoHope_meme_02

Between the pain and the chaos of divorce, hope has been a difficult thing sometimes. I think I have it in hand, but if flies away, leaving me alone. It flutters just out of reach on those hard days.

That is when I remember all of the loss of the past year, all of the endings. So much that it feels like my life will break in two.

Indeed it has, with part of my heart going with my husband. I truly understand now the meaning of “one flesh” and the heartbreak that divorce leaves behind. There will always be that emptiness in my life, one that can’t be filled with activities or fun.

Am I still entirely me? I don’t know.

But I know that I must continue, must keep moving forward with my life. Hope is still here, and it is time for some beginnings. Something good.

As Katie Davis Majors says in Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful,

“Dreams die and seasons end and terrible, unspeakable things happen that don’t make much sense, but God is not done with us yet. He uses the bending and the breaking and the dying to prepare the harvest, to prepare more for us. We reach high to the Son and He comes down and pulls us closer.”

Today I reached high. I was baptized, fully immersed and washed clean. A new beginning after so many, many endings.

I am ready for some good. I still have hope.

 

In the Middle of the Mess

Middle of the Mess

I had hoped that the end of my cancer treatment would bring renewal into my life, that of both my life and my marriage. Instead the opposite is true. My life continues to fall apart, bit by bit.

When dreams are crushed and suffering is long, it can be tempting to wonder “why” all of this is happening. Too, it is very easy to lash out at my soon-to-be-ex husband, pushing my hurt and anger onto him in that moment. But it doesn’t make things better.

The hurt and anger and heartbreak and anguish don’t go away by unleashing my inner “mean girl.” Instead it only starts the cycle of crazy once again.

As Erwin McManus says in The Last Arrow,

“Sometimes your geography doesn’t change at all, but the journey is still long and hard….Having the courage to live a life of honor and integrity may be the greatest battle you will ever face.”

Divorce is hard. There is nothing good or positive or normal about this situation. Add into that still recovering from my latest surgery and cancer treatment…life just seems impossible at this point.

And living a life of faith and honor? Each day I pray for the strength to make it through just that next moment, the courage to face my challenges, and an extra measure of love to extend to others. All too often I fail. But I get up and brush myself off, pray a bit more, and try again.

Life is just really, really hard at the moment. Could you please pray for me that I am able to live a life of faith, honor, and integrity, even in the middle of this mess?

Breaking Apart

Breaking Apart

It seems like joy continues to race ahead of me, taunting me with its presence in the lives of others. Finishing my cancer treatment was supposed to be a happy time, one of celebrations and new beginnings.

And yet…now a divorce.

The pain of this breaking–both physical and emotional pain–is indescribable. Having prayed and pleaded and discussed and loved, I only have emptiness. The man who once shared my bed and my life is leaving, looking forward to a life without those responsibilities.

I don’t know if I can love again. Perhaps I have missed that chance at happiness, that chance at having a forever partner.

Looking around at what was our home, I remember all of those dreams that we had and wonder what lies ahead. I now face what remains of my middle age alone. The prospect of that loneliness stretching on forever saddens me.

Although some apparently have divorce parties nowadays, I see nothing to celebrate. Marriage is a lifelong commitment–a covenant–and the breaking of our vows will only lead to heartbreak.

It is overwhelming. Somehow, though, I must move forward.

Co-Agents in Marriage

Picture from rickyysanne on Morguefile.com
Picture from rickyysanne on Morguefile.com

Perhaps you haven’t yet thought about the possibility that there are secret agents living in your neighborhood and working with you. They might appear to be normal individuals—mothers, college students, and workers. Friendly and unassuming, they might never reveal their hidden identity. Still, there are times when they may be focused on their smartphones, especially when around pieces of public art or community centers. Or sometimes they might take quite a bit longer to go to the grocery store than expected.

Who are these people? They are agents for either the Enlightenment or Resistance in the game, Ingress. The game is an augmented reality game, one in which “portals” seen only by looking at a smartphone are superimposed on our physical world. Players fight for control over these portals and thus the population. There’s a lot more to the game, of course, but those are the basics. Starting with a small beta, the game has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon with agents cooperating in enormous tasks for their team.

My husband learned about the game early on when the game was still in beta. He played a bit at that point but returned in force when we both got smartphones. He was insistent that I join the Resistance and therefore be able to help him in the fight for XM. And my reaction? I was a little annoyed by the prospect. Why travel around to play a game when I could be reading a novel? I finally relented, though, and formed an account.

I realize now that my initial annoyance was selfish on my part; marriage often includes doing things we might not normally think of doing otherwise in an attempt to bring happiness to our spouse. Indeed, this service is described in the latest book that I am reading, an advance copy of The Story of Marriage by John and Lisa Bevere. Prioritizing our lives in favor of God and our spouse—along with a right heart and spirit—will lead to making your own desires last. I’ll admit that this hasn’t always been easy for me, and I often fail. But with God’s grace I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

It would cost me only a bit of time to make my husband very happy, and little did I know that this game would provide a fun point of unity for our marriage, giving us an escape from our daily tasks while allowing us to be co-agents for the Resistance. While some married couples might jog together, we go out and play Ingress. It is purely nerdy fun and provides some much-needed relief from stress. Battling together for portals, we have found togetherness in our marriage as well as camaraderie with local players.

While initially my participation was reluctant, Ingress for us has become a major way to enjoy ourselves as a couple and provides a point of bonding for us. I gave up my own time—and my doubts about this game—and benefited greatly by serving my husband. We become co-agents for the Resistance when we fight the Enlightenment, thus bringing us a bit further in our pursuit to become co-agents in marriage as well.

Competition in Marriage? Yes!

2013-09-27_0918Competing as a married couple can be fraught with difficulties, but it can be a whole lot of fun as well. True competition without a sense of love is useless in a marriage as it can cause strife in the relationship. However, competing for the sake of enjoyment can bring a new element to even a long marriage that has seen its share of ruts.

How do I know this? It’s pretty silly, really. My husband and I recently began playing The Tribez on Facebook. It is a game similar to Age of Mythology in that you build a town and progress through the evolution of your society. There are some different elements as well—an ongoing and mysterious communication with a professor, for example—but that’s the basic gist of the game.

Although it is a simple Facebook game, it has become a source of fun and competition for my husband and myself. We talk about our own tribe, how we are progressing through the game, and what quests we are currently completing. Not so surprisingly too considering my husband’s personality, it has also brought out his extremely competitive nature, and so we have found ourselves taunting each other about a lack of progress, but in a fun way.

Is playing this game productive? No, it sure isn’t. But it has injected a bit of fun into our relationship during a difficult and uncertain time. We can talk about something light hearted and tease each other in a silly way. Oddly, we’ve even found ourselves growing a bit closer. And that makes it worthwhile.

Dinner Time

Original Photo by  kumarnm on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by kumarnm on Morguefile.com

Lately, my husband and I often wind up having a conversation such as that below around dinner time:

Him: “What do you want for dinner?”

Me: “Mmm…I don’t know.”

Him: “Do you want to go out?”

Me: “No, let’s just fix something here.”

Him: “What? A frozen pizza?”

Perhaps you too have such conversations in your own home. The inevitable nature of them makes them somewhat humorous and pitiful at the same time. With the speed and busy-ness of our daily lives, many often leave behind organizing their home life in favor of the ease of frozen foods or restaurants.

This didn’t always occur in our household. I admit that I have become rather lazy in this area of our lives. After spending much of my energy attempting to find recipes that everyone would enjoy, I decided that we would just eat frozen food. And we have for a few months now.

With the cool summer and the continuing lack of job prospects, I’m thinking I’m going to have to return to my organized, frugal ways and make my own meals and other food items such as yogurt and granola. Much more in the way of work for myself, but certainly cheaper as far as grocery bills.

Last night, we had a conversation similar to that above. After some fruitless discussion, we were close to going out for Thai food. I searched for the phone number and considered the price of the meal, which would have been somewhat expensive; I decided then and there to whip us up a meal from the food we had on hand. Maybe not Thai, but it was spicy. It’s just too bad we didn’t have a bit of something to drink along with it.

I have to admit that it felt darn good to be cooking again. There’s something innately satisfying about creating something on the fly and feeding your family. Definitely more satisfying than warming up a frozen meal or a pizza, and probably more nutritious.

Who knows? Perhaps my return to my old frugal, DIY self may provide some fodder for another blog. At the very least, we’ll be getting away from constant meals of frozen foods and the futility of having the same conversation every day.

New Project

blogiconMy husband and I are excited about a new project that will be the result of both of our talents. It’s a big step–especially for a married couple–but I think it will be great. Although we’re a bit nervous about taking such a step, we are feeling positive about the possibilities.

Meanwhile, in Wichita… is a brand new blog that will feature the awesome people, places, and events that make Wichita, Kansas great. While we don’t yet have any stories on the blog, we have made some initial contacts and have some plans in the works.

For a married couple to undertake such a challenge, there is always a risk of some conflict, but I think that both of us can overcome any problems that may arise. And yes, there will hopefully be a benefit to us professionally as well. In this sort of job climate, we’ve got to make our own opportunities.

So if you’re local, then check us out. Meanwhile, in Wichita… is ready to tell your story!