“One more thing,” my counselor said as I was leaving, “I think you should reach out to her this week.”
The next couple of days seemed to drag on forever. I couldn’t quite figure out how to initiate a text. What do you write? How do you push send? Debilitating fear was my constant companion over those 48 hours, and it camped out beside me to make sure I didn’t make a move.
Until the third day.
As I pulled her up in my contacts, I noticed it had been almost a year since we had last texted. I read through the conversations between us the year before and was reminded of the sweet friendship we once had. It took me about 25 minutes to peck out the message I would send in that moment where I realized my landscape had changed drastically. I was reaching out to the girl who had taken my role in the story. I had been re-cast and someone else was playing me. I was digging deep to find the right words for the awkward invitation I was about to extend.
“I’m going to drop the boys off at school in the morning,” I wrote. “I was wondering if you would want to say a quick hello on your front porch (just you and me) on my way home, instead of running into each other for the first time at a football game? Let me know if you’re up for it.”
And she wrote me back. We worked out the details…I would meet her the next day at her place.
I was SO nervous driving over there. I parked my car, took a few deep breaths and then walked up the path to her house. The door was open, so I walked in and said hello. We chit-chatted for a few minutes, mostly about the kids. A few minutes later we wrapped up the conversation and I said goodbye. As soon as I got in my car, I burst into tears. I had so much emotional build-up and our time together triggered the full release of what I had been carrying around.
The tears stayed with me for the next two hours. And in those moments I let so much go. I had cracked open the door to my heart and knew that I would have other opportunities to be pushed out of my comfort zone. My next self-imposed assignment would come a few months later on a trip to visit friends in Chicago.
On my flight to the Windy City I penned a letter to my FSIL (former sister-in-law). When I arrived I selected a card for her at a stationary store and then carefully transferred my thoughts. My friend took me to the same mailbox where he had sent a difficult letter to his dad a few years earlier. I took a moment as I dropped it in. I was less than a year into my journey but I had started to experience some healing and perspective. I offered my thoughts, tucked them into the envelope, and said a prayer as I released them into the box.
This is what I wrote:
Please don’t be nervous to read this letter. I waited to write it and send it until I was ready and able to pen the words out of sincerity and kindness.
These last several months have been extremely painful and challenging for me, yet after much counseling, personal healing and prayer, I am now in a place of hope, peace and forgiveness.
I’m ready to forgive. Yes, I’ve struggled with anger and pain. But I’ve also dug deep. I’ve faced my demons. I’ve embraced healing and change and I am in a good place. I have, to the best of my ability, let go of the hurt and bitterness. I am choosing daily to walk in forgiveness and let go of offenses.
I’m ready to accept. God has given me grace to face each day. I understand my new role. I understand yours. I have come to grips with this new reality.
I am ready to trust. This is a hard one, but I know that you love my boys and I am trusting that when you are with them, you will care for them and help guide them in the ways of the Lord. I trust that you have their best interests at heart.
I’m ready to be cordial. I will do my best not to make things too awkward between us. This is a really hard one for me to imagine, but it will be my prayer that I can someday be friends with you again. I can only do this with God’s grace and it will be a process, but this is what I’m working toward.
A few weeks later a small card arrived in my mailbox. I was nervous to open it, I waited until I was on the phone with a dear friend so we could read it together. It was kind and the thing I remember most was the last part where my FSIL made a reference to someday being a step-mom to my kids. I didn’t realize things were so serious; I hadn’t thought about something that permanent.
As always, God was gently shining His light on my path, graciously preparing my heart for the next difficult chapter. That tiny card delivered the idea of something big that I wasn’t yet ready to receive. But as with everything else He had shown me, I now knew what was coming. And I sensed it was coming soon.
Did you like this post? Please follow my blog and share on social media and with friends who could use some encouragement. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need to hear. It’s my way of paying it forward.
13 thoughts on “The path (part 4)”
This is good. And you have always been amazing at writing notes and letters.
Your heart is just like Jesus. He is in you and lives His life through you every minute. Oh how He longs to give us the keys to His full purpose . 😘😘Dolly
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My divorce was U. G. L. Y.
The actual process wasn’t so bad, but the reason for destroying a 24 year marriage is actually criminal. The hurt and embarrassment my ex rained down on me sent me into a tailspin that lasted for three years. I’ve finally settled into my “new normal”, but I still resent the fact that my ex-husband put me in the position to need a new normal.
I am so proud of and amazed by your strength and your faith.
I haven’t been able to bring myself to reach out to my ex. The thought of forgiving him is a huge hurtle for me. At first, I was cordial to him, but over the last four years, my anger towards him grown.
I’ve dealt with this by completely removing him From my life. Neither of our children have any type of relationship with
him and he is not allowed to even see his new grandson.
I know forgiveness is supposed to set me free, I cannot figure out to forgive without feeling like I’m condoning what he did.
My solution is just to try to pretend he doesn’t ezist; that it didn’t hurt when he remarried; that it’s not my responsibility to try to protect his new wife and grand daughter.
I know this blog entry just describes the beginning of your journey to reach out to your ex-sister-in-law, but I know the strength and faith it took for you to make that step.
Thank you for being so open and for sharing your story with us. You are one strong woman. I pray some day to be able to do what you did and to start down the path to freedom from my anger.
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Stephanie, thank you for sharing your heart here. Mine breaks for yours, I’m so sorry you have had to go through this painful process. I really love your authenticity in this statement, “I cannot figure out how to forgive without feeling like I’m condoning what he did.” That is such a powerfully honest confession and I have felt that way before. I just want to encourage you with this…the more we heal, the greater our ability to be true to ourselves. Your kindness is an expression of your heart, it doesn’t excuse what has been done to you. And yet we feel they are tied together. I just want to encourage you. In the next couple of weeks I’m going to touch on something that speaks to this topic. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, thank you. ❤
Christine, I cannot express to you how thrilled I am that you found your place in reaching out to so many desperate people. I will never forget the small exposure I had to this horrific process, but mostly I will always remember your graciousness. Your desire for righteousness and love and forgiveness. Your light to this world into my life. Thank you for being an amazing sister that I can always Count on and learn from. You are a treasure.
Divorce hurts everyone, I’m so blessed to see you allowing it to become a beacon of hope and tool to further God’s kingdom. After hearing about your story, I’ve had to walk in forgiveness, I know most of the people involved and even though many years have passed, I was very angry for you. Our paths cross more than you know because of college friends…. needless to say I have close friends who are close friends with people that have hurt you. I’m occasionally ( through your posts) reminded of my unforgiveness. I have a friend (who was one of my best friends ) who left her husband, and it reaked havoc on everything. I’ve lost my friendship with her, because of our former closeness, the betrayal was personal. The hurt she imposed on her husband and children, was to hard for me to overlook. I’m always impressed by you, but just know that your planting great seeds!!!! You always have. I hope our paths cross again someday!!!!! 🤗 hugs.
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Kori, thank you for being such a dear friend. ❤
I agree with the person who says this act is criminal. Personal, but criminal. Certainly against ones will. I am happy that you have found forgiveness and also that you are wise enough to listen to a Father who is parenting each of us. Growing up I was amazed by you, by the Christ in you. Grown up- I am still amazed and I am here if you ever need human support and love as you continue on this journey.
His peace surpasses our understanding.
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I have always loved you, Marsha. Thank you for your love and encouragement. ❤
I met you 20 or so years ago, at a Married for Life Conference in Denver my parents were attending, and I was tagging along to help like the other teens.
My mom sent me a link to your blog, as my husband of 10years and 3 kids, is choosing to divorce me. It felt suddenly and out of the blue when he told me May 28th that he didn’t love me or want to be married to me anymore. I didn’t realize he was unhappy. He had been a pastoral counselor for the last 9years fighting for marriages, and for him to not want to fight for ours… has been painful and confusing for me.
Reading about your experience and how Hod is using this painful time, is very encouraging. I would take any and all advice and prayer. This is all so bizarre and foreign to me… I never expected this. Ever. Thank you, Becky (Townley) Gittings
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Becky, I have been praying for you over the past few weeks. I know you are in the middle of the fire right now and I just want to send you a hug and tell you that you are not alone. I want to encourage you to wake up each day and thank God for His mercies that are new every morning. These are long and hard days, the ones where we have to cling to Jesus like we never have before. (Where would we be without Him?) My prayer for you today is that God gives you the strength you need to walk through this valley. My mom’s books may encourage you right now if you haven’t read them lately, they can be downloaded from their website. I know you have a strong family support…cling to that and listen to messages that encourage you. Find verses and worship songs that give you life. I love the saying, “YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS.” This is the season where you will walk by faith and not by sight. You are deeply loved. ❤
Good afternoon, I have a personal question to ask. Is there anyway to send a direct email?
You can write me here! I won’t make public.