Hope

...Hope...
…Hope… (Photo credit: ĐāżŦ {mostly absent})

When you find yourself in an alienated situation, you run the gamut of emotions from helplessness to anger to frustration to hopelessness to agony.  At some point or another, you’ll take even the smallest kindness as progress.  See my previous post for an example of this.

It’s very, very important to do this.  You’re not grasping at straws, you’re not reading “things into the situation.”  If you are able to even find the smallest things, like a text that isn’t angry, or your daughter holding the elevator for you at the DMV and allowing you to ride down with her and her boyfriend, then these small things can be steps to building a foundation for reconciliation.

Both of those small things happened in the last month with my daughter and then we had the water bottle gift earlier this week that all gave me hope that something was beginning to cause the ice to begin to thaw.

I was scheduled to deliver her new laptop to her yesterday morning and then she texted me to say she wasn’t home and could I just drop it off on the porch.  For some reason, I had envisioned me delivering it in person to her, showing her how to use Windows 8 and downloading office for her and getting the chance to just talk to her a bit about ANYTHING but the divorce.

So I was a bit forlorn as I drove to their new place to deliver the laptop, but noticed that they were driving down the long driveway, coming home, just before me, so I hoped maybe my vision would pan out.

In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined that I would spend 90 minutes or so with my daughter and her Mom, just, as she put it “catching up.”  I learned about their new jobs, my daughter’s approach to her senior year (at a college, not a high school – which sounds like a very cool program).  I learned about their new horse and everything I wanted to know about their new home.  I got to meet the new horse and say hi to the old one as well as the dogs and cat.  They invited me in and we sat talking at the kitchen table while I worked on the laptop.

I got to share with them some of the things happening in my life and they got to see me as the calm and honest and decent guy I am, not this thing that they have made me out to be in the last 8 months.  As I left, I gave (and received) a great hug from my daughter and did the arm hug thing with my ex wife.  They walked me out to the car in the twilight and we chatted a bit more.

Then my ex broke down in tears (no one had said anything to really trigger it, that I could tell) and my daughter went over to comfort her.  I stood there not really knowing what to do and so after about 30 seconds, just said, “I think I overstayed my welcome, guys, I’m sorry, I’m going to head out…” and I drove off.  I texted back my daughter to say much the same thing and she replied that I hadn’t overstayed the welcome at all, but that they were just remembering the way things used to be.

It took me 3 miles before I couldn’t control it anymore and just wept.  I wept for the answer to MONTHS of prayer.  I wept for the lost time and the missed moments I was hearing about with both kids.  I wept for the loss of the dreams and the marriage.

I had been praying that when this moment came with my daughter that I wouldn’t break down in tears or get emotional in front of her.  That God would help me be calm and relaxed and myself.  All of those things happened.  I wept because God had answered my prayer, sooner than I’d expected and in a way that just blew my mind.

After decompressing with my best friend — I have said before here that I can’t just ignore emotions, but have to try to understand them.  My best friend is such a huge help with that.  Plus, he needed to hear the good news.

After I left his place, I thought for a while about a couple of things I learned about praying for the impossible.  Sorry, this is probably going to be a bit preachy, but I just feel like all of you struggling through this need to hear it…

1)  Pray.  Get others to pray.  Pray for specific results (in this case, a change of heart in my daughter and son).  Pray for specific events where those results could occur — many of you were praying for us yesterday because of my “long odyssey” post.

2)  Live in a way that honors God in spite of not seeing answers to your prayers.  I’m not saying be perfect, none of us can do that.  But talk with God and read and meditate and spend time with Him.  Whatever he’s called you to do — do that, until he’s called you to do something else.   Psalm 112:4  “Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright.”

3)  Be ready and patient and (Most important) Expectant for the answer to your prayer.

Thanks for all your prayers.  We’ve built a small foundation upon which to rebuild our relationship.  There’s a very long road ahead of us.  But I have hope.

Advertisements

Hope in a long odyssey of discouragement

Soccer game1
Soccer game1 (Photo credit: nebarnix)

Just realized that I hadn’t updated the blog in about two weeks.  That’s probably the longest stretch I’ve gone since I started it.  Look back on the last post and you’ll see some comments from someone who was encouraged by the blog.  That has been my whole reason to do this.  I KNOW there are men like me all over the country and undoubtedly women as well who are struggling with alienation and need to know they are not alone.

So here’s an update with some hope, in that light.  Many of you have been praying for some sign or God-fueled turnaround with my kids.  I have family and friends read this, even though I keep it anonymous to protect my children and their mom.  The purpose of the blog is not character – assassination, but helping others through this.  I was separated more than 8 months ago from my wife of over 20 years and have 2 teenage kids who’ve sided with mom and basically had nothing to do with me for the length of that time.  It’s been lonely, agonizing, incredibly painful and probably the single most difficult thing I have ever had to go through in my entire life.  I was a pretty involved dad — coaching for many years, working in their youth groups and children’s ministries, helping with homework, spending all weekends with them.  Like many of you, my life revolved around my kids.  So to instantly lose all of this in the separation and subsequent divorce was quite a shock to the system.  I’ve had to learn how to be me again.  Who am I?  What do I want to be when I grow up?  That’s been an interesting journey, but one of the most important I’ve been through in my life as well.

All that to say, my younger son had his first Soccer game of the season this week.  Of course, all of the friends we sat around last year while watching the games were crowded around my ex and my daughter and her boyfriend.  Didn’t want to make a scene — I’ve really worked hard at playing all of this low-key.  So I sat off to the side and quietly watched the game by myself.  At halftime, my 17 year old daughter and her boyfriend took orders from the group they were with and went off to the snack bar to grab some drinks and stuff.  Didn’t think much about it and checked email on my phone and chatted with the 2 different men that dared stop by and chat (albeit awkwardly) with their old friend whom they weren’t allowed to be seen with…  You can see previous posts for my theories on this.

When they got back with the snacks, a few minutes later I hear a voice from behind me…

“I thought you might be thirsty, would you like a bottled water?”  It was my daughter.

“Wow,” I said.  “Thanks for thinking of me.  Yes I was thirsty, I would love one.”

“No problem,” she replied smiling.

“Hey, _____________,” I said, “I got your new laptop for school today.  I have to pick it up tomorrow.  Could I bring it by Saturday morning for you?”

Her eyes lit up. “That would be great.  Thank you so much for getting that.  I really appreciate it.”

“Not a problem at all.  So I’ll see you Saturday morning.  Thanks again.”

 

And thus went the first conversation I had with my daughter in 8 months.

 

As I sat watching the 2nd half of the soccer game start, I tried to control all the emotions I felt.  Couldn’t cry — that wouldn’t go over well.  Honestly, didn’t feel like that.  Felt like jumping off the bleachers and doing a fist pump and screaming thank you to God.  Truly a miracle.  I couldn’t wait to call my friends and family and tell them that we had a breakthrough.

I am tempering my enthusiasm.  My mom said there would be ups and downs in this process, and I can’t get too excited about the first breakthrough because there will be other issues that appear to be sending us back into the same hole we’ve been in this past eight months.  I need to be steady and responsive and loving throughout.  That’s my mantra.

I have shared with you a lot of the struggles.  I felt like you deserved to hear the first steps of what will be a long journey out of the past.  Many of you have told me that this is just going to take time.  I have really struggled hearing that.  I’m impatient.  I’m an immediate gratification guy.  10 minute meals on the skillet are about as “delayed” I get in the food preparation realm.  So this.  This has been like a drop of water dripping on a rock for 100 years.  But I’m learning how to be the best I can be (independent of kids and a wife — just me).  I’m learning how to love unconditionally, and I’m learning how to live alone.

There is hope.  Hang in there all of you!

 

— Jim