Last week was a bit of a rough week for me in many ways. It was in fact a time to stop and reflect on things in my life that I have experienced. Things done by me that could have been better- things that were completely out of my control that I COULD be bitter about (and HAVE been bitter about in the past) and things that just plain WERE.
Ten years ago when my husband walked into my life, or actually, I literally walked into HIS, my life was in what APPEARED to be shambles. But God in His mighty wisdom and power can turn a tattered and torn life into one that is unrecognizable to the outside world. It's sad to me that the "outside" world doesn't always have the benefit of SEENG the changes that have taken place on the inside. They can and sometimes DO still judge you by who you WERE and not who you are. In my personal experience it's family that has the most difficult time accepting changes in you. (or in this case ME )
This is not to say I am not guilty of the EXACT same sin. I know that I am.
Sometimes someone I know from long ago will say to me , " So, How is Niki? " (My half-sister)
I usually , without fail, reply, "Oh you know, Niki's Niki!". And there is usually a chuckle by the asker.
In fact, I haven't TRULY known my sister for many years, and therefore I am making judgements against her without the fairness of having even SEEN or spoken to her in many years. Even though I don't have any contact with my half sister or my half brother (I haven't any "full" siblings) I want the very best for them and their families, and if it meant sacrificing something of my own, I would do it in a heartbeat.
I am making a judgment on the sister I knew a long time ago. She may be sorry for her past behaviour and regret many decisions SHE has made. Just like me. Then again, she may not, but that's not my business, it's hers.
So, now, on that note I will turn back to me and tell you this.
I am NOT WHO I WAS 10-15 or 20 years ago. THANK GOD! ( actually , I am not even who i was ONE year ago!)
It saddens me to say that although I consider myself "wiser" by the worldly standards, I had become more of a jaded person than I wanted to be. I have learned to "expect the worst" from people and if they step up and "do good", then it's a "bonus".
This is NOT who I am at the core of my being, but it's who has TRIED to live at the surface for far too long.
The reason I know this isn't who I "am", is no matter how many times I was burnt I never once stopped wanting to do for others, make others comfortable, give to others and basically put others first. It can be a very strange and odd existence being me- always expecting the worst from others but still wanting to do more and more for them. A people pleaser? Maybe, yes, but I feel that pleasing others is far better than being selfish and bitter. Also, no matter what, you can never go wrong making someone else smile.
My husband has taught me many things- not the least of which is to expect the BEST because everyone is NOT out to hurt you.
My husband is the epitome of unconditional love. He is the personification of God's love towards me. He is the living on earth example of what a "Father" truly is and he has exhibited this through his words and actions with my own children who are not even "his".
He finds joy when he is told Stacie "looks just like him".
He is sad when my son is sad.
He wants the BEST for my 2 children as though his seed assisted in creating them.
THAT and that alone is enough to show the character of the man I call my best friend and husband.
He is a gift from My Heavenly Father and there literally is not one single day i don't give thanks with a grateful heart, for what the Lord has done for me.
If I shared the entire story of my life and why I had to come expect less than stellar behaviour from people, men especially, it would shock and surprise most of you that do not know me all that well. Those of you who do "know", trust me, you only know a fraction of what I feel comfortable sharing.
Recently (this weekend) , I heard from a "long lost " family member who wanted to drop by and give me something. Turns out that "something" was 2 one hour long DVD's of old 8 mm films of various family members, including me, from the 50, 60's,70,s and 80's. This particular family member and his wife have been known to gossip about me and truly make up lies abut me, but I STILL love them so much and have longed to be a part of their family, not in blood only. So, I jumped at the opportunity to have a visit. THEN it hit me- WHY DID I ALLOW THIS?! WHAT ON EARTH WILL I SAY TO THESE PEOPLE?! THEY HAVE NEVER THOUGHT WELL OF ME, THEY ASSUME I AM THE SAME SCREWED UP 13 YEAR OLD I WAS BACK THEN. WHAT HAVE I DONE??!
A quick phone call to my daughter and son-in-law and they changed their plans to come and be there with me when the visit took place. My husband- who is not a fan of sitting and making small talk with people he barely knows- committed to sitting and making small talk with people he barely knows! My son, who has NO memory of these people even promised to make an appearance! It hit me this weekend- I HAVE the family I have always wanted- it's just smaller than I had dreamt it would be.
After the hour long visit- Stacie sat down with me to watch the DVD's.
The short clips and glimpses into our lives showed a very different reality from I had grown up believing was MY reality.It was weird. Good weird and even bad weird, but I am grateful for the chance to see the me I never knew.
I was able to see me at ages 1,2,3,4 and 5. Then again as a 17 year old bride and then a 20 year old mommy.
What it did NOT show was the darkness that had tried so very hard to overshadow every good memory , for as long as I can remember.
What it DID show, was a little girl, surrounded by extended family who loved her. It showed me my mother as an 18 year old mommy. A 19 year old mommy and a 20 year old mommy with my 3 year birthday cake and expecting the sister I previously spoke of in this note. It showed me that I truly DO come from beautiful stock. And I don't just mean physically, (my mom was HOT!) but also I saw a glimpse, in the 3 year old birthday clip, of a mommy that REALLY loved me. I can honestly say, and this will not shock my mom as I have told her this in the past, I never felt loved by my mom.
Through the small clips, in the DVDs I have now, I have been shown how wrong I was. My mom did the BEST she could given HER age, life experiences and lack of Godly influences in her life at that time.( My mom was a tom-boy growing up and probably would have done better having all boys, but she didn't and that's her reality! She had no clue what to do with a little girl - who was a GIRL! =) )
I had the benefit of knowing Jesus very very young and I believe that even at the WORST of times, my knowledge that SOMEONE was always watching out for me gave me some sort of comfort during very difficult and lonely times.It was my "fear" of God that didn't allow me to try drugs or even cigarettes, be promiscuous ,party like all my friends,or even get drunk .
I was by all accounts a "goody goody", back in the day. But INSIDE? Inside I felt "bad", I always had the sneaking suspicion that "if you knew me, REALLY knew me, you wouldn't like me". And for some, maybe that would have been true! I mean no one can TRULY be liked by EVERYONE.
And that's just got to be OK.
I would have to say the last 10 years have been the most poignant, joy filled and memorable. to date. But we are a woven blanket of our ENTIRE history, whether we REMEMBER everything or we don't.
This note has been more of a ramble than I intended, but I needed an outlet and I felt compelled to just type.
I am always a work in progress, just like you.
I am reminded of a poster I had on my fridge when my children were small:
"Please be patient, God's not finished with me yet".
(And I'll be patient with you!)
Finally, I love you Evan, more than any written word can say, you are a TRUE man of God.