Moving Forward

by hisgracerose

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I honestly thought I would be writing this a long time ago. I actually thought I would start writing when we moved to Poland. I had great (grand, really) ideas as I usually do for what writing and my time here would look like. Great expectations if you will. But, as it often turns out for me sometimes my follow-through is severely lacking. And although that is partly the case here moreso I would say that grief has been having its way with me for a period greater than two years. It has over-taken me and my life. I have been paralyzed by it. Wrecked. Changed. Heartbreak and bitterness consumed my mind daily. I had been unable to move forward. Unable to think of anything else. Loss has a way of breaking us and making our perspective small. For me, consecutive losses of relationship (and a few other things over a greater period of time) destroyed my heart in a way I didn’t know was possible. And thus, a tidal wave of grief overtook me. You see, if you don’t know me, relationship is something I value above all else. And not just any relationship, deep relationship. If I choose to be in relationship with you, I am fully in. Committed. Loyal. It is something that I would not say that I knew fully about myself, or perhaps understood the way I do now, until after this season. I knew that I would do anything for those I cared about but I didn’t realize how unwavering that was and that it wasn’t something that everyone valued as equally.

When you are newly married it is a season when you need your friends the most – unequivocally. I will go to the grave advocating for that. It is hard enough being a newlywed but if you couple that with being in the military and constantly having to move you need the support of those who stand by you regardless of distance, seasons and time. Two years ago as a newlywed with a deployed husband I was in one of the loneliest seasons I had ever been in. I had lost some I thought who would be forever friends. And a best friend. Friends who told me there was NOTHING that would ever change our friendship. What good news to my wounded heart. See, if you knew my story, you would know how that spoke to the deepest parts of me. There was NOTHING that could change our friendship. But you see, it wasn’t true. And when I lost that friend in particular, I was devastated. Inconsolable. It sounds incredulously dramatic but truly I think a part of my heart died, if it hadn’t I don’t think I would have still been mourning that friendship. I spent the better part of two years ruminating that loss daily.  I wallowed in my grief. I learned young that it is possible to have your heart broken and to be abandoned in deep ways by those who you don’t choose, in this season I learned that it is possible to have the same thing happen by those who you do choose. Both are equally painful – at times I wonder if that latter is moreso. Perhaps it is because it is so fresh. It is amazing that even if a part of your heart has been healed, a new loss can  tear the scar open again and it requires you to begin the process over again. My heart still aches for some of those relationships to be righted but I know that there is only One who can do it.

I would love to tell you that in this season I trusted God. That I have read the Bible unwaveringly. But truly I have just been angry. I have blamed Him. I have asked “why?” more times that I can count. I have ignored Him. I have told Him that I have had enough pain in my life and that I have been obedient so why this? Even then I knew my perspective was small and even though I was sure He was in the midst of it all I was unable to move outside of my hurt. And even though I knew He was working in other areas of my life and I had insight to some of the things He was doing I couldn’t see past my sorrow. I have experienced many seasons in my life but none that were painful and had lasted this long. Additionally, I didn’t think I would be starting over at 30. I didn’t think I would be seeking out lifelong friendships from this point forward. I didn’t think I wouldn’t have a career – that I would still be trying to work out what I am passionate about now. What I want to do. I guess I didn’t think I would feel so lost in so many areas of my life. And yet…

Moving to Poland has been such a blessing to me. Not just because I have always wanted to live in Europe but because this culture has been refreshing to my heart. Generally Polish people don’t engage in relationship with you unless they mean it. Upon arrival my heart was in a place where it and I wanted honesty. Black and white. Yes or no. Authenticity. Polish people tend to be nothing but. I LOVE it. If I hadn’t been in this season it may have caught me off guard and I could have been offended but I craved it. I have been timid nonetheless. Not ready to engage my heart fully. Fear of loss and the hurt had not allowed me to be fully open. If I am being truly honest my heart is still wary of what will happen when it comes time for this season to come to a close but these people love well and they love hard. If they let you in, it is for a lifetime. They don’t do halfsies. That isn’t even to mention the Church here. It has been amazing to see how the Holy Spirit is recognizable globally. Our church is an Acts church unlike anything we have seen. The desire to be a family to all who enter not just in words but in action has breathed life into both KJ and I in parts of our souls that we didn’t even know needed it.

Upon returning from a trip for my 30th birthday, I had a new friend here in Poland offer to throw a small party to celebrate. It broke my heart in the best way. I had completely forgotten what it was like to be thought of in that way by a friend. Again, I know that may sound overly dramatic but its true. For two years my heart had been lost in sadness. Focusing on the people who had forgotten us. Those who had cut me or us out of their lives or those who were too busy to remember or pursue us  {Sidebar: the military teaches you how to become great pursuers by the sheer nature of it. Fortunately our friends the Covaks taught us how to do it well also. Friends, PURSUE EACH OTHER! Be intentional. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Don’t say things you don’t mean, it breeds disappointment. If you can’t follow through, don’t offer. Love each other well!} . Let me tell you friends, this is a yucky place to live. Avoid it at all cost. The enemy LOVES this place. Isolation and lies live here. But that aside, it woke up a part of my heart that had been lost. It sparked a slow burn of thankfulness that had been growing since we met our amazing church family in December. 30 or not, lost or not, it was a sudden perspective shift I needed. To be sitting in a room of women from around the world who are getting to know me and love me in their own right and chose to be with me to celebrate was such a blessing! I felt so deeply loved. I won’t ever forget that moment.

I have not always known how to steward my heart well but I am learning. There is only One who can show me how. But I must love fully, that is how my heart was made and I can not deny it. That is the part of me that was made most in His image. There are other parts of me that He is working on in this season and is showing me but He must be teaching me wisdom with my heart. “Guard your heart above all else for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23 There is a balance with sharing our hearts. We must be wise but we must love well. I am learning how. Maybe you are too. For me it will probably be a lifelong process but I want to love hard and I want to love with wisdom. I want to be who He created me to be. I don’t have the answers for grief. But I know the One who does. I also know it takes time and I know that He is patient. That He is willing. And that in time healing comes. We may not forget everything but we must move forward or we will be forever lost in our pain. And that is not where we are meant to live.

Let me say here that this was not meant to be a pity party. It took me two and a half years to get to a healthy place to write this. I want to be remain thankful. I want to grow. There were some friends in the midst of this season and for them I am incredibly grateful. I can’t thank all of you individually but I hope you know who you are. For those of you who have walked with us unwaveringly, thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you so much – you mean the world to us. To a few couples specifically….to the Blechs – we could not have done D.C. without you. You made life there so sweet – thank you for loving us well, ESPECIALLY at the end. I have no words for that. Tacos, Blech babies, and friends for life. To the Henrions – thinking about you makes me cry. Your friendship is so deep and unwavering. You are one-of-a-kind lifers. Thank you loving us and knowing us in all things. You know we love you the same. Can’t wait to be in the same place someday. ❤ Mulherns: Your wisdom, prayers, understanding, grace, and selflessness in friendship is beyond words. Thank you for being a continual example to us. We are so blessed to know you and be friends with you. Thank you for walking with us through all the seasons. We love you so much.

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