As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
I hung up the phone with my best friend’s boyfriend. Sounds like a totally weird sentence, but it did have a good purpose. We had never talked on the phone before, but he was calling to invite me and my husband to a party that he was planning. He was designing a clever plan to propose very soon, and after she said, “Yes!” he wanted to bring her back to his house full of all their closest friends to celebrate in their brand new engagement! Oh my gosh! Y’all have no idea how excited I was for her. She had waited for just the right one, and we all absolutely loved him. He was really just perfect for her, and she was swimming in happiness.
Little did they know, or did I know for that matter, that my husband and I were going to separate just a couple of months after their engagement. I knew we were not in a good place, but when they threw the party, he was still up for making it look like we were sort of happy. So, we went. I couldn’t even tell you how happy I was that I was there to see them walk through the door with her man by her side and that beautiful diamond ring on her finger! The smile on her face showed true joy and she really did glow of love and anticipation of the future with her new fiancé. (for some reason I don’t like that word…fiancé. I really don’t’ know why! I love what it means, but I just hate the sound of it….kind of like the word “moist” for me. But, that’s a whole other story!)
Coming home from the party, reality started to set in again. The dark heaviness of my marriage snuck back into my life and I began to crumble under the weight. I was all smiles leaving the party, but all tears when we got home. It was so good to have my mind focused on my best friend, and all her happiness. It felt like home to be able to laugh and feel light hearted while I was there. I really started to see what kind of person I had become living with such stress for so long. I had lost a lot of my joy.
It was just several weeks after that party that I had to call my friend and give her some news that I didn’t want to tell her, but that I had to tell her. She needed to know that my husband and I were going through some major troubles and that I had asked him to leave. I soooo didn’t want to tell her those things, but it was necessary for her to know. She is like family to me, and besides that, she would be able to sense it anyway.
She was understanding as she has always been. She even offered for me not to have to do any of the wedding activities with her because she knew that it could be hurtful to watch her get married while my own marriage was ending. Although I knew she would say that, I already knew that I wouldn’t miss being a part of this season in her life for anything….not even my own divorce. We had prayed for her husband, and waited for him to come into her life. I wouldn’t let my own problems keep me from celebrating her. I didn’t know just how good that decision would be for me.
Because of her wedding, I was able to see forget my problems, even if it was just for a few hours here and there. It allowed my brain a vacation from the dark places and allowed me to focus on the good things like friendship, love and the beginning of something wonderful. Being able to witness her merging her life into his was a gift that God knew I needed exactly at this time.
Although my world was filled with divorce lawyers, children, and moving boxes, it was also filled with bridal showers, long lasting friendships, and happy tears. It was truly a relief to be able to get my mind off of my own issues and pour into my friend. Self-pity is truly destructive.
It wasn’t easy all the time. I found myself being tender when my mind would wonder over to myself. My heart would ache when I would see the other girls in the bridal party with their husbands, and mine…well, mine was a felon. Don’t laugh! It’s a real thing I had to deal with! Her wedding helped carry me through my divorce. There is no better medicine for the soul than giving to others when you are having a difficult time.
On a cold day in December, my best friend got married. I was honored to stand beside her as they made their promises to one another. I was there to witness one of the most important days of her life because she is one of the most important people to me. And although I didn’t get to dance with my own husband at the reception, I did dance with 2 of the most amazing kiddos on the planet. It was a good good day!
The valleys in life don’t ever ask permission when to make their entrance. They just come at their leisure. But, when we turn our focus inward and become self-absorbed we forget about the life that is happening all around us because we are blind. We become jealous and bitter. God’s design for us is to not fall victim to life’s downfalls, but to overcome these things with love. If you are in a “low” right now, take heart. It’s just a season. But, if all you do is dwell on the negative, it can become a lifestyle. Instead, invest in those around you. Happiness is contagious. Don’t miss out on the forever good because of the temporary bad.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15