Monday, May 17, 2010

Trading Spaces - Bloggy Style

Hi, friends!
Surprised to not see my Monday video devotion here? That's 'cuz I'm 'Trading Spaces' with Heather today. Heather, from Desperately Seeking Sanity, has just started up a monthly event wherein we'll get matched up with another blogger, and trade spaces for a day.
I'll give you a head's up about it next month, and maybe you can join in. Who knows? Maybe I'll get to trade spaces with you!

For today, please welcome Heather to Surviving Motherhood.

To All the Men I've Loved Before

So the topic is love and I'm the one that came up with that topic. I did it because I got married yesterday. I was a little giggly and starry-eyed. But then it came to the point where I had to sit and come up with something.
My mind went blank.
I didn't know what I was going to say. I didn't know how to spin the post into something that was me, conveyed what I wanted to say, or even conveyed a lesson or inspiration.
Of course, it didn't help that Karen had already sent me hers and it was, oh, so eloquent. And just, well, Karen. Please go over to my space and check it out. :D

But then, I started thinking about all the men I've loved throughout my life. I told my now husband (oh my gosh, that is so weird, yet WONDERFUL to write) that I was going to write a post to all the men I've loved before. His response? "That's going to be a long list."
Clearly, in all the times I've mentioned past boyfriends, he hasn't paid attention to the ones that actually meant something. Because when it comes to my heart? I'm pretty guarded. As in, he's lucky I opened it up to him.
Because the list?
Has three people on it. Four, if you count him.
But in looking back, these three men, through the relationships and the break ups to follow, have each taught me something, crafted me into who I am today and ultimately? Were placed in my life by God with a purpose that I couldn't see until it was time for God to reveal it to me. And for whatever reason, these things became blazingly obvious to me a week or so before my wedding.

The first man I truly loved was my ex-husband. We'll call him JJ. JJ and I met when I was 18, I had just arrived for my first semester at Boston University. Six months later, I had dropped out of college, moved to Philly to be with him and got pregnant with our oldest. Obviously, this man was in my life to give me my children.
My children saved my life.
I was on a path of destruction - there was alcohol, drugs (minimal, but they were still there) and just doing some really stupid things. I learned to be a grownup with real responsibilities with JJ. We were married after our oldest was born and it lasted just three years, but had we not separated, I don't know that I would've ever gone back to college. But I did. And I graduated, with honors even, and today I am in a much better situation than if I had never gone.
But the best part? JJ, his wife, my husband (heh) and I work together for the betterment of the kids. JJ was put in my life to give me my children, and the first lesson in forgiveness that I've had.

After my divorce, I moved home with the kids and went back to school full time. It was there that I met J. J and I were together for almost 3 years and in that time, I learned that love was not enough to hold a relationship together. I loved J, with all my heart. I loved his family. But J and I had different goals in life and neither one of us were willing to shift those goals to allow for a relationship to go any further. We finally ended it, amicably, and to this day, we still talk from time to time. I was the only girl his parents liked until B came along and I'm happy to say that all these years later (like almost 8) J will be wed this fall.

And then there was T. T was the most baffling as I look back over the past. I could somewhat understand why with the JJ and J but T? I couldn't figure out why he was in my life, and chalked it up to just lack of thinking on my part. T was a recovering alcoholic who fell off the wagon about 2 years into our relationship. He had a child and we struggled with the whole your/my kid issues. I tried to be supportive of his choices until it just got to be too much for me and we ended it, or rather I ended it.
And it was bad.
But in the last few months, I've been able to take what I learned about alcoholism and offer advice to a dear friend of mine. I've been able to be there for her in many ways and then, when I learned of her husband's problem, I've been able to help her - in a way that I wouldn't have been able to had T not been in my life.

In the past three years, since giving my life to Christ, I've been able to forgive these men, as well as seek forgiveness. I'm in the rarity in that I'm still on a 'friend' level with all of them. I've been able to witness to T in a major way and last I heard, he was sober again. JJ and I are good friends. And J? We still talk on Facebook from time to time, just checking in to see how the other is doing. It's nice to be able to have no hard feelings on either end.
It's also nice to be able to learn from these men about relationships and myself.
But the shocking observation that I see when I look back over the last 15 years of dating history is that Christ - up until my husband came along - was not in these relationships. And so as I embark on this new journey with my husband (oh my gosh that's gonna take some getting used to), while a little nervous about the past history with men, I'm calmed because I know that Christ is our focal point. I know that He is important to us and that we have both vowed before God and others to always keep Him in the center of our lives and our marriage.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
They say that people come into our lives for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. The seasons of the past only primed me for the lifetime ahead of me. While I hate not knowing what God is up to, I love to be able to look back and see where He's been, how He's primed me, and where He's brought me.

My God is an Awesome God.

Heather St.Clair is a mom/stepmom of four ranging from 13 to 5 and blogs at Desperately Seeking Sanity when she's not tending to kids, closing big deals or dancing backwards in high heels. Her blog is a reflection of her life and her faith and her never ending search for sanity.



Heather {Desperately Seeking} said...

ok your post is live now... i'm so sorry i'm late... technical difficulties... BUT awesome friends who step in and save the day!

Amy Bennett said...

CONGRATS, Heather!!

Irritable Mother said...

No worries, Heather.
Now, go! Enjoy your honeymoon!!!

Proverbs 27:19 said...

Hey Karen! This was sucha great idea! I enjoyed reading Heather's post.


gianna said...

when I was in high school, I completely GAVE my heart to someone who wanted to be friends and nothing more. It's good to read this and realize that I need to forgive and move on!

Irritable Mother said...

Larie - It's good to 'see' you! I'm glad you enjoyed Heather's post.

Gianna - Forgiveness is an amazing thing. I'm so glad I'm forgiven!