“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.
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