A Bitter Thing

It is a bitter thing to realize you are wrong.


You would think, by now, it being such a common experience for me these last months, I would be used to it.

I’m not.

I stood there, in my shower, (my thinking place) and the advice my mother in law gave me some months ago came back. Advice that I swatted away because it was ridiculous and showed that she did not know me at all.

I am over fifty. When, I ask, am I going to learn to listen to those older and wiser than me?

Okay, she has made plenty of her own mistakes. And yes, I blame her in some small part for what I am going through right now. But oh crap, she was right.

What was the advice that I did not even give five minutes of thought to?

“You should buy a condominium.”

Y’all, forgive me, I am of a certain age, and the word “condominium” conjures precisely two things: the end of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special (“my grandmother lives in a condominium”) and every older divorced woman on TV who is trying to “reinvent herself.” Like an unbroken horse I bucked that word right off and trotted away, smug in the knowledge that it was not for me.

I am a homeowner. I have lived in houses that we owned for the last 25 years. I don’t share walls. I have too much furniture (at the time of the decision, it was all on storage containers. I could not even remember all that was there, but I knew it was a lot.) I like privacy. I have a dog. I had many many reasons why a condominium was not for me.

Now here I am. In the house I bought with all the naïveté of a twenty-something. It needs work. So. Much. Work. Every where I look, something needs doing. I am buying tools I don’t know how to use. Coming up with grand ideas that I cannot in the least afford to execute. Things my husband would have done. Easily. And enjoyed the doing. We were a good team, he and I. It was fun.

Now it all feels unbearable. A giant rock that I cannot move an inch much less push up a hill.

Spring finally came. Sunshine. Glory hallelujah. And then I turned around and there are weeds. And the grass is very long in places. I don’t own any lawn care tools. “I’ll just buy a lawnmower” I thought. And then the next thought: “Will it come in pieces to be put together?” Because y’all… that literally undoes me. I have the spatial abilities of a toddler. Scratch that. My older son was a freaking genius at puzzles when he was not even two. Of a spatially incompetent toddler. It was when I was trying to work out how I will deal with the lawn that I suddenly thought, “If I lived in a condo I wouldn’t have to worry about this.”

That was immediately followed by, “Oh. Crap. She was right.”

I should have shopped for a condo. Or even a townhome for goodness sakes. I wouldn’t have to do all these stupid home improvement projects that make me cry on the daily. I could do what I wanted. Yes, it’s not where I imagined myself at fifty-something years old. Yes, it’s a stupid 1980’s stereotype of divorced women. But there’s a reason for those stupid stereotypes. Me. I’m the reason.

The thing is, it’s too late. I own the house. I’m knee deep in the home improvements. And if you think that’s going to keep me from shopping for a townhouse online you are one hundred percent wrong. Because my brain is looking for the escape hatch and it just keeps banging into walls. Frankly, it still can’t believe this is all real. It just feels like one long drawn out nightmare.

When I was in high school we read Waiting for Godot and we teenagers thought it was hysterical. Bizarre as heck and utterly pointless and straight up comical.

“Let’s go.”
“We can’t.”
“Why not?”
“We’re waiting for Godot.”

That? Is my brain on the daily.

“Let’s put this thing together.”
“We can’t.”
“Why not?”
“We don’t know how.”
“Buy a tool!”
“Which one?”

… and on and on it goes… and it all really boils down to

“Let’s go.”
“We can’t”
“Why not?”
“We’re waiting for a miracle.”

It’s a bitter thing to realize you are wrong.



The Starbucks guy smiles as he hands the drink to the woman who is at least fifteen years older than I am. He smiles at her in a sweet way, a twinkle in his eye. I note it, because I know myself. I know that not five minutes later when he hands me my drink he will smile at me in exactly the same way and I will want to think he’s flirting with me.

I never used to consider such things. I didn’t need or want that kind of attention from a perfect stranger, much less someone so significantly younger than I am. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to feel this desperate to be seen.

I miss him. Every day. All the time. I miss our walks. I miss knowing that I would be missed, if I didn’t come home at a certain time.

(I’m already thinking of deleting this post. Because these feelings are so wretchedly vulnerable.)

The roots of this invisibility cloak go very deep. To the little girl whose world was turned upside down one evening before she had even finished the first grade.

Eight years later, the Holy Spirit spoke so loudly I couldn’t miss it. He saw me. He wanted me. And I was scared. Because I knew. I knew there was no such thing as a casual relationship with the Savior of my soul. But He was irresistible and so I stopped resisting.

Everything was different in an instant.

And everything was the same.

I was still the same boy-crazed girl desperately wanting to be seen. Even as I got to know the Lover of My Soul, I kept looking to pubescent boys to tell me I was loved.

Eve was taken from Adam’s side. She was created to be his “help meet” – in the Hebrew, his “Ezer”. It means “one who helps”. The same word is used of God, as in Psalm 33:20, “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.” It is no subservient role that God gave to Eve. It is a holy calling. It is to image our LORD; to be there for someone, to meet them in their deepest needs.

God designed me to be that for my husband. I am bone of his bone. Flesh of his flesh. It’s not just about physical intimacy. It’s two souls entwined, stitched together. It is a grafting of one to another. Once a branch has been successfully grafted onto a tree, the only way the two will be separated is with the violent hacking away of the layers that connect them.

“So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt 19:6)

That word, “separate”, is “chorizo” in the Greek and is more accurately translated “put asunder.” It is the same word used to describe the tearing of flesh in the Old Testament. It is a word that speaks of violence. This is what the prophet Malachi is referring to when he says the man who leaves the wife of his youth “does violence to the one he should protect.” (Mal 2:16)

I type all of this with no small amount of anxiety. I do not want to cross boundaries. Private matters should stay private. Please do not read too much into my words. I am speaking of an emotional, spiritual violence. All of this is to try to help you understand what I cannot really put into words. The hurt that never stops hurting. The grief that threatens to drown me in my own tears. The reason that I look to total strangers to tell me I am still here.

All those years ago, God spoke my name and I accepted His invitation. The Holy Spirit sealed me and I entered into a covenant that cannot be broken. I am His beloved. I know this. I preach it to myself throughout the day. Thank God. Thank you my God. Truly. I cannot imagine how much more lost I would be without You.

These two truths live side by side. The wonder and beauty of God’s love for me. And the aching horror of walking around as one who has been torn asunder.

This is what it is to live here in this fallen, hurting world. If you find yourself wondering, does being a Christian mean never feeling any “bad” emotions? No. Don’t let anyone sell you that emotional prosperity gospel. Jesus felt all of the feelings and He WAS God. And yet. Because He is my helper, I am not alone, even if sometimes it feels that way. Feelings are not facts. And even if I never recover from this grief, even if I feel the void until the day I die… it will get better. Because there is another life after this one that is infinitely better and longer. And you better believe I remind myself of that every single day.

Whatever grief you might be carrying, if you’ve gotten this far in my long sad ramble, please remember this above everything else:

If you are in Christ, better days are coming.

(If you have not recognized His voice calling your name yet, consider that this might be one of the ways He’s calling to you. And if you want to know more, please ask. There’s nothing that helps me rediscover joy more than to talk to people about the relentless love of Jesus.)