Weakness

A car accident in Tokyo, Japan. Español: Un ac...
A car accident in Tokyo, Japan. Español: Un accidente automovilístico en Tokyo, Japón. Français : Un accident de voiture à Tokyo (Japon). 日本語: 東京での交通事故 ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: En bilulykke i Tokyo, Japan. Português: Um acidente de carro em Tóquio, Japão. Русский: Дорожно-транспортное происшествие в Токио, Япония Türkçe: Tokyo, Japonya’da bir araba kazası (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Sunday’s message at church was about letting God show up in our weakness.  We were challenged to own up to our weaknesses and let God take them and make them something incredible.  So here goes.

 

There are so many times throughout this whole alienation process where I have been willing to let things go to avoid a scene or a blow up that would certainly result.  Much like during the actual marriage, I sacrificed what I believed in and what I valued for the sake of peace.  It is weakness.  It is unwillingness to stand up for what I believe in because I’m afraid.  Or because I don’t know what to say or do, so I don’t do anything.

 

Case in point — today at a soccer game, my daughter was walking past the snack bar where I was working (let’s just say it’s easier to have a job in the snack bar than to sit by myself in the stands…).  She was talking to a friend on her cell phone explaining her accident.  Apparently she was rear-ended by someone, from what I overheard.  Interestingly, she stood close enough and spoke loud enough that I heard almost the entire conversation.  I think that was purposeful on her part.  She wanted to make sure I heard the lines like, “Yeah, I called mom like 6 times and couldn’t reach her and I didn’t know what to do so I called you (about her friend).”  She walked directly past me, like two feet in front of the snack bar window on her way back to the bleachers and I asked her, “So, you got in an accident?”  She acted like I didn’t exist.  No response at all, just a firm scowl and a deliberate walk.

 

She’d left a very angry voicemail on my phone on Friday.  I had responded via email, explaining to her that I would love to have a relationship with her, but that it can’t be a yelling relationship.  That when she was ready to have a non-yelling relationship, I would love to see her.  That had been our last “communication.”

 

So today when she gave me the cold shoulder, I honestly just stood there not knowing how to handle it.  Feeling weak.  Feeling impotent.  Feeling like whatever I did would be hated, create anger and make things worse.  So I did nothing.  It’s two hours later, and I’m still not sure what I should have or could have done.  Writing helps me explore my true thoughts and feelings, so lets go through the options.

 

1)  Speak louder.  Say her name and ask louder what happened so she’s embarrassed in front of others if she doesn’t respond.  PROBABLE RESULT:  ignoring me or turning around and yelling at me to leave her alone.

 

2) Send an email to her mom, mentioning that this is “life-change” event and by judges ruling is required to let me know about them.  PROBABLE RESULT:  “You heard her talking, you see she’s okay.  You know.”  From her mom.

 

3) Walk over to her and make sure she’s okay.  PROBABLE RESULT:  see number one above.

 

4) Write her a nice email reminding her that her dad is still here and available and would love to help her in moments like that in her life.  Tell her I’m glad she’s okay and that I hope she can get her truck fixed without too much trouble.  PROBABLE RESULT:  no response.

 

So, I think I’m going with #4, mainly because it’s the only option left at this point and it is more in character with how I’ve treated the relationship for the last year: Return hate and anger with love.  Firm boundaries, and love.

 

But in all of this, I think I get the message from Church — I am weak.  I need God to intervene.  In my weakness.  To make me strong and make this relationship strong again.

 

 

 

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Freedom, but not freedom from drama

Cover of "Braveheart (Sapphire Series) [B...
Cover of Braveheart (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray]
So the Divorce was final last Tuesday.  I’m a bit behind on entries so there are two coming out today.  I posted Mel Gibson’s scene from Braveheart where he yells “FREEDOM” on my facebook page — that was the signal I had mentioned to my close friends where they would know the divorce was final.  The last few days have been spent cleaning up the minor details of life insurance and health insurance and all the stuff that has to wait to be separated until the final divorce.

I didn’t experience any major emotions.  I think I’ve gone through those more than 8-10 months ago.  I didn’t even cry.  I was just relieved.  My best friend took me out for a very nice steak a couple of nights later and I was once again reminded of how God had taken care of me by placing him so strategically in my life way before the separation and then how he had risen to the moment after it all hit the fan.  Some men get that in the tough times, you show up.  Mark gets that.  He’s all in.  If you’ve got Mark with you, you know someone’s got your back.  I told him all of this that night — though, being guys in public, we didn’t get all emotional about it until we walked out to the vehicles. Even no huge emotions, just good strong words.

I walked away feeling like (as he said), the chapter is written, the page is turned.  I grinned and held up my hands like I was holding a hollywood movie scene starter and said, “And…. Scene.”  We laughed.  I’m moving on.  Thinking most of the drama is past.

Cue ominous music, start new scene, next day, rainy day, coming home from downtown and a long day of work…  Voicemail from the ex – wife.  I’d better handle the utility bill (from four months ago in our married house — which I wrote about earlier and paid two months ago) or she’s calling the lawyers.  Angry, threatening.  Rudely spoken, completely disrespectful.  I sigh.  Hang up the voicemail and immediately call the energy company.  After a brief conversation it becomes clear that what is owed is not the old married home energy bill, but the new rental house energy bill that she alone is responsible for.  Apparently, she’s had three months of bills and only paid one.  So I calmly thank the kind lady at the utility, hang up and type a quick and succinct email to the ex.  I called the utility, they assured me once again I had fully paid, I encouraged her to double check which energy bills she had paid since the new move and asked her to check all the info before threatening me with lawyers.  I was polite, not rude, but direct.

10 minutes later, I get another voicemail from her.  As you can see, it’s important not to answer the phone when she calls, so I have a record of her tone and her words.  She starts off my addressing me by a cuss word, then proceeds to berate me and tell me she’s going straight to the lawyers and I owe her all this money for this and then texts me pretty much everything she has hated me for over the last 20 years.  Immediately thereafter, my daughter calls and leaves a message (if she calls after my ex, I do not answer out of the same wisdom).  She tells me that if I’m going to harass her mother I have to go through her first.

I’m working hard at re-training them how to treat me. My counselor had explained to me a while back that we train everyone how to treat us — so if we’re not happy with the way they are treating us — we need to begin the process of re-training them.  So I sent them both emails back telling them that I would not listen to any voicemails from them if they could not be polite and treat me with respect.  That if they wished to communicate, they were going to have to do it by email until I could see that there was politeness and respect in them.  I also told my daughter that I love her and would love to have a relationship with her but it’s not going to be a yelling relationship.

Not sure if it’s going to help, but it’s just some of the steps I’m taking in this journey to ensure that I’m doing what’s right.  I’m not yelling, I’m not berating people, harassing people or insulting anyone.  I’m keeping to the facts, I’m acting in love, but I’m also not allowing them to treat me however they want.

So, freedom.  But still drama.  As the world turns…

Contagious

A football (or soccer ball) icon.
A football (or soccer ball) icon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The thought occurred to me the other day, sitting in the soccer stands, watching another of my son’s high school games.  I must be contagious.  Why else would the former friends and soccer-watching-fellow-parents keep a judicious 20 feet away from me?  They’ll say hi, assuming I make eye contact and they haven’t looked away fast enough or assuming there’s no one else within a 50 foot radius and they have no choice in order to avoid a major social faux pas.

 

I wonder if wives tell husbands they’d better not have friendships with these divorced guys — they might catch that divorce fever and then their marriage is headed for the ICU as well….  I’m being a bit facetious.  Of course wives don’t have these conversations — they don’t need to — their husbands already get it from the negative reactions their wives have to any alternative view of the situation then the poor single mother who now must make a go of it on her own.  

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not judging any single mothers — there are many of them out there who are doing whatever they can to ensure their kids have a great relationship with their father and are working their tails off to support the now split family.  I’m judging this judgment that our society has for single fathers where we are guilty until proven innocent — and theirs no trial or place for us to ever prove that innocence.  So we are just guilty.  Most mature adults realize that it takes two to tango.  Most parents tell their kids that there are two sides to every story and maybe rather than judging the side we don’t know about, we should be curious and care enough to find out what is happening on both sides of the equation.

 

Instead, we have experiences like a week ago.  One of the mom’s from my old church walked by with her 8 year old son (whom I taught in his Church Programs).  We used to talk very regularly in our small group.  I knew her kids well — I’d taught them, coached them, and been their camp counselor.  As they walked by, I saw the 8 year old tug on her arm and say (not quite out of reach of my ears), “Momma, why don’t we talk to Mr. Jim anymore.”

 

I would have given $100 to hear her response.

 

I’m fairly certain I didn’t treat divorcees as contagious before I went through  this.  I’m also fairly certain I didn’t go out of my way to love on them.  One of the last times I was at my old church, I walked in late to a pre-Easter service and there was a chair open next to an acquaintance of mine.  It was three months after my separation and filing for divorce.  It was a pretty emotional time for me.  I sat down next to Charles.  He immediately patted my knee and made me feel welcome.  It was all I could do to keep from breaking down in tears.  Just that little human touch meant so much at that moment for me.  I wasn’t contagious to Charles.

 

All of this reminds me of the approach Jesus took toward the divorced and the contagious in the Gospels.  The woman at the well had been divorced 5 times and was living with her current man.  Jesus treated her with respect and love when no one else would even talk to her.  If you look at the interactions with the truly contagious, like the lepers, even then, Jesus had no qualms about touching them and being involved in their lives.

 

What we need is more people treating divorcees and non-divorcees a like as non-contagious and people needing love.  Go do that today.

 

 

 

Jim