April 10, 2014

Buried Deep

One morning Tytus woke me up really early. I grabbed him out of his bed and began to feed him in my chair. His big blue eyes stared up into mine. I loved rocking him and enjoying every smile he gave me out the side of his mouth.

Within minutes, his smiles ran out, and he was fast asleep in my arms. I didn’t want to move. He looked so peaceful, and I loved every second of watching him sleep. It didn’t happen very often. For a while, I just stared at his perfect little face. He was an angel, that was for sure, but I don’t think that even at the moment, I could fully comprehend what a great blessing he was for my life.

After some time, I began to look around my empty bedroom. Not much had changed within its walls. The bedspread was still the same as when Emmett was there. I had moved the furniture around a bit, but that was nothing new for me. Almost everything in that room, at that very minute, felt completely the same. It felt as if at any second, Emmett would come walking into the room to tell me about his day. I could almost smell his body wash steaming out from the shower. If I closed my eyes and ignored the pain in my heart, I could step back in time before he died and pretend I was there. Maybe it had all been a dream!

The clock read five a.m. I knew that time well. Emmett always woke up that early to leave for the gym. On many mornings, I would get up with him to make him some eggs before he headed out the door. I never thought twice about how early it was. I was excited to get up and show him how much I cared. I would sit on the counter and watch him scarf down every bite.

Eggs. I craved to lay Tytus down and go out into the empty kitchen to make Emmett some eggs. I wanted to show him one last time that I didn’t even look at it as a sacrifice. I wanted nothing more than to be there for him, no matter what time the clock said.

It had been months since I had been wakened by the sound of his voice, asking me for a quick pre-workout snack. I could almost hear his deep voice, “Hey babe, do you mind making me some eggs before I go?” It hurt how badly I wished he would wrap his arms around me, and whisper that in my ear. 

I snapped out of my daydream as the clock turned to 5:10. It was still hours away from the moment when tiny feet would come running into my room, but I couldn’t sleep. Somewhere buried deep inside of me, a pain was raging. It was so heavy that I could almost see it in my empty bedroom. There was no sign of any change, but deep inside my soul, a storm was brewing. In that moment, the room might have looked the same, but I knew everything was different.

My bitterness chimed in with a stark reminder of all the pain Emmett’s obsession with his body had brought me. The gym. Every morning, I had dragged my exhausted body out of bed so he would have the energy to go prance around half-naked with a bunch of other people! Regret for every egg I had ever cooked him simmered deep inside me. All of the positive memories of waking up to make him breakfast turned black. Why had I been there at his beck and call? Why had I put everything into him, when he had not returned the favor for me?

A deep-rooted anger seemed to be pulling me further and further into despair. By the time morning came, the house was all abuzz with excitement because the twins were graduating from kindergarten that morning. Their joy was apparent, but my heart still felt black.

I showed up at the school just in time to find a seat. Kindergarten graduation, though very exciting for the twins, was just one more thing for me to do alone. The anger and bitterness that had churned inside of me all morning about the eggs seemed to be bubbling up into my throat. I felt like everyone was watching me, just waiting for the pain to explode out of me. The eyes in the room felt heavy as I slid past a few parents to an empty seat.

The twins looked beautiful. Their eyes were fixed on me. They sang a song called Big Dreams. It started out, “Big, big dreams, lots of big dreams, things I want to be someday . . .” I choked up as I tried hard to keep my feelings buried inside. Dreams. Big dreams. My twins were standing up on a big set of risers singing at the top of their lungs about all the dreams they had for themselves someday. Tears streamed down my face as I pictured the semblance of the normal life I had once enjoyed being wiped away, like my tears, never to be experienced again. Once more, I tried hard to push my fears and emotions back inside of me.

By the end of the performance, I was ready to run out of the room. I didn’t want to talk to any of the teachers, or parents . . . or children for that matter. I wanted to run away, and hope that no one had caught a glimpse of the tears that had forced their way out of me. I had to be strong, I had to bury the pain, I couldn’t let anyone see how truly broken I was.

The mother of one of my daughter’s friends came over to say hello. She asked how I was doing—a question for which I had no answer. That particular question had been asked so many times that I actually stressed out about how to answer it every single time it was asked. I assumed she wanted me to answer honestly. Maybe she had been reading my thoughts, and wanted me to tell her about the eggs I was fretting about all morning? Maybe she wanted me to break down and cry, and remind her of all the legal hell I was climbing through? I almost saw her as a threat—an enemy who wanted me to unveil the unbearable pain I had been masking all day.

Instead of answering her, I started making jokes about Kandi and Emmett. I didn’t look her in the eye, just rattled off joke after joke about all the crap Emmett had pulled, and all the horrible thoughts I still carried around about Kandi. My friend stood there silently as I made fun of every possible angle of the story, and rattled off all of the degrading and inappropriate slang terms I could think of to describe Emmett and Kandi’s decisions.

She gave me a little side hug and said, “Hang in there friend.” Then she walked away. HA! She hadn’t won. She hadn’t seen my pain. I had fooled her for sure. She had no idea of the secrets I was concealing, right? If all eyes were off of me, that meant no one could see my pain. But even if they couldn’t see it, it was there, and there was no way I could let it go because it had become a part of me . . . and I almost needed it to survive.

That pain, the pain I thought would go away as I directed my friend’s thoughts off of me and onto Kandi and Emmett . . . it didn’t leave. It didn’t even feel better; it actually felt completely worse. My plan seemed to work for a few seconds. I didn’t have to share any of the things I was struggling with, I didn’t have to open up about my breakdown over eggs that morning . . . but the words I did use spoke more about my insecurities than a detailed description of them would have. I didn’t have to describe my pain because it came straight out of me in the form of hate!

That moment of hate would not be my last. In fact, it became my companion. Anytime I didn’t want to look someone in the eye—for fear they would rat out my buried anguish—I would make them laugh by telling jokes. I would make light of the horrific story I had learned to call my life. I would mock and tease and try hard to get any ear to hear about how “well” I was doing. I truly believed they thought my humor was a sign that I was doing “better,” that I had overcome my grief.

They could laugh with me, but I never let them cry with me. No, that was something I continued to do alone in my closet or while driving in the car.

One of Emmett’s friends came over that night to help Teage with some soccer moves. He ended up staying until way past the children’s bedtime. When the kids were all in bed, we found ourselves watching TV. He sure was a cute guy. He had never been married, and the thought crossed my mind that maybe he was there for more than to just help Teage. I kind of enjoyed having a man in the house again, and sitting on the couch talking with him reminded me of having Emmett. They had a lot in common, and I could see why they had been friends.

He had come over a few times to play with Teage since Emmett had died, but he’d never before stayed until the kids were tucked in bed. I had only met him a few times before Emmett’s funeral, but I remember having seen him at the viewing. He had been very emotional, and I remembered feeling so badly for all the single guys who had looked up to Emmett so much. It was as if they had all looked to Emmett as an example of the men they wanted to become and the lives they longed to have. Now they were all in the difficult situation of trying to figure out where he had gone wrong, so they could make certain they didn’t follow the same path.

I figured he was at my house to find more answers about why Emmett had failed, so he could know where to look for a new hero. We talked for a few hours about “Emmett stuff,” and after some time, he grabbed my hand. My heart began to race. All the emotions and fears that had been bottled up all day began to try to find their way out. What if he could feel them through my hand? . . . What was I doing letting a man hold my hand in Emmett’s house? I was panicking inside . . . and every feeling I had buried deep down was trying to make its way through my hand and into his.

I was afraid that by getting that close to me, he would be able to know how broken I was. He held my hand the rest of night, but I never relaxed. He probably felt like he was holding onto a zombie’s cold, unattached lifeless fingers. I shared no emotion through my touch. I didn’t want to tell him to let go, but I held onto the fear that was trying to let him in. I wasn’t about to share it with anyone. It was mine, and there was no way a cute smile was going to talk me into allowing it to leave.

I never let him come over again. He called and texted a few times after that, but there was no way I was going to let myself be vulnerable again and risk exposing all of the broken pieces I held inside, by having him too close.  I had buried those feelings, and nobody was going to be able to crack me open to let them free. I wasn’t ready to have a man hold my hand; I hadn’t let go of the hand for which I still longed. But even worse, although I wished Emmett were there to hold me . . . I hated him at the same time. That was one toxic relationship I would have to overcome before I let anyone hold my hand ever again.

Feelings buried inside feel safe. When we are the ones suppressing them, we truly believe that no one can see them. Our fear of them being revealed keeps us from letting anyone in. The moment others’ love and concern for us causes us to believe that they are after our buried treasure . . . we want to run. 

There is no freedom from our pain when we are running from it. It doesn’t get left behind when it is hidden inside of us. 

So many of us have been hurt. We long to find peace, and yet we refuse to let go of our hurt. We bottle it up as if it were a prized possession. There is no good in storing our pain, there is no place for it to reside inside our heart. Its power is darkness, and its message is deceiving. Somehow, it causes us to believe that we need it to survive. It creates a bond inside us that causes us to feel that it must stay there. 

The darkness of the world has left many of us stuck. We have buried its secrets within us, and we are afraid to let them free. 

Abuse, neglect, and anger have allowed others to define who we are. We have all fallen victim to the cruel and evil secrets of our past, and the pain that has followed has settled in comfortably inside our hearts. 

But, we don’t have to keep it in! Just like a buried treasure in the sand, we can find the riches of digging it up and letting it free. If you have scars from your past holding you down . . . let them go. If someone in your past has wronged you . . . let them know. If you have a secret eating you alive . . . today is your day to set it free. 

You are not alone. Every one of us has something buried deep inside. A secret from our past . . . or a deception causing pain. Satan will try to get us to believe that its home is permanent; that its power to hold us back will never leave. 

I can testify that Christ knows the truth about our pain. He knows of the fears that eat us up inside. He has heard every prayer and seen every tear we cry. Even if those tears have been shed alone in our closets . . . He has counted every single one of them. 

When you are alone looking in the mirror, do you hate yourself? Do you purposefully draw attention away from yourself and onto others? Do you spend your days trying to point to everyone else so you can continue to hide?

Pretending my pain didn’t exist . . . didn’t take it away. It didn’t even hide it, because my screams about Kandi and Emmett’s imperfections did nothing more than display my own. What fears are you trying to conceal by putting others’ shortcomings on display?

I spent years making jokes about the people who had wronged me. Anytime I saw my raw emotions coming to the surface, I would cover their tracks with slams. Even in meetings with attorneys and detectives, it was easier to mock Emmett’s and Kandi’s mistakes . . . than to let them see the pain that had built a colony right in my heart.

Laughter isn’t always about what is funny. Sometimes we laugh because it helps us not to cry. Fear and pain can be suppressed for a long time . . . but they always find a subtle way out . . . or eventually explode through our screams. The pain I had buried deep inside of me raged its way out through hurtful words about the tragic events of my past, and mocking jokes about those who had wronged me.

The emotions that drive our actions are larger than they seem. They are powerful, they are blatant, and they are self-destructive. Spend less time putting others down, and more time letting out the real emotions you have buried deep inside of you.

Our bodies were not made to be storehouses for pain. Our bodies were built to be the receptacles of beauty and light. When we hold in our pain . . . it hurts. It doesn’t feel at home, because it was never meant to reside inside of us.

This mortal journey we are on is more than just a road full of painful bumps, it is a rollercoaster of excruciating exhaustion and fear. It is a river of whitewater rapids that can toss us back and forth. We were each sent to earth with a body. That body is a gift to serve as a vessel for our spirit as it navigates the bumps and feels the pains of mortality. Our end goal is not merely to see how much pain we can store inside and take back to heaven with us, but to see how much of the pain we can overcome . . . how many of the mountains we can cross without harboring the pain all the rocks create under our feet. We have to learn to let go if we want to return back to God. Those pains that are still a part of us when we die will not be left here with our mortal bodies. If we haven’t let them go, our spirits will hold onto them. That is why this earthly life is the time for us to learn to live and let go.

Each one of us has been given our own roadmap, but our final destination . . . our end goal. . . is the same for all of us. When we left the Spirit World, we knew that the things we would endure were to help us return to live with God. He sent His Son to die for us to make that possible, but he also commanded us to forgive all men . . . and not harbor the pain inside of us.

When life feels like it is trying to bury its darkness deep inside your soul, fight for the light of Christ to carry it away. When others are sent to hold your hand, let them do their part in helping you release your pain. When memories of the past cloud your ability to live today . . . pray for the power of God’s love to lighten your load. I know that Christ is the one being who has walked this earth, who has seen firsthand exactly how each day has felt for me.

When those around you are singing about the “Big Dreams” of the future, let it be a reminder that the sorrows in your heart can be transformed into peace. It is good to hold onto your dreams, even when the dream you are living feels dark. There are brighter days ahead. Don’t give up on the big dreams and the little memories about eggs . . . for when we stand at the gates of Heaven, searching for the acknowledgment of the one true God who gave us life . . . remember that we will be judged on the days we are living now. 

Heavenly Father doesn’t care if you are a bread maker or the owner of the entire bread company. What He longs to see for us, His children, is that our road of life was lived to its fullest. He longs to hear the stories of when we overcame the darkness that tried to bury itself in our smiles. God desires to see us sacrifice, and love, and work hard to fulfill the mission He sent us here to perform. 

Whatever mission He has sent us on . . . we cannot see its purpose when we are busy hiding from it. I have found that in the moments when I have let it all go, it is then that He has been able to speak to my heart. 

If your heart is clouded with the secrets and pain of the past, and you can no longer feel or hear Christ’s tender whispers, now is your time to unclog your connection. He isn’t the one preventing Himself from coming to heal us, we are the ones preventing Him from coming.

When you feel like you’ve buried yourself deep in the sorrow of your past . . . you are the only one who can allow that sorrow to be set free, but He can carry it away. He stands waiting for you to ask for help. Deep inside of you, under that pain, are all the answers you are seeking. Clear the view and you might see the perfection waiting for its voice to be heard. You are more than the pain others have left in your heart. What is buried even further down, deeper than the pain . . . is you. 

Good Things to Come

April 4, 2014


A few days after Emmett’s funeral, I had a doctor’s appointment. I sat in the office waiting for someone to come in and speak with me. As the door opened, I was expecting to see my usual nurse, but instead, in walked a woman I had never seen before. She looked so casual and calm and asked, “What is it that you are here for today?” 

“Well,” I said. “I would like to have my IUD removed.” She glanced quickly through my chart. “It looks like you just barely had it put in . . . like a week ago. Is there a reason you don’t like it?” 

I took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Well, actually, a few days after I came in here to have it put in, my husband died . . . so . . . I just will not be needing it.” 

She glanced up from my chart, and asked “Then what are you going to be using?”

I looked into her eyes with an inquisitive glare. “Um . . . well, I am not going to be using anything.”

This conversation must have been a new one for this poor nurse. “I am just worried that you might not want to take it out,” she said. “Have you thought about keeping it in as your form of birth control? Should we discuss the other forms of protection we offer here before you make your decision?”

Again, I tried to make my point clear. “Well . . . like I said, my husband passed away, and I am no longer in need of birth control, so that is why I am here . . . to take OUT my IUD.”

The baffled look on her face made it clear she was doubtful of what I had just said. “Are you ready to get pregnant already . . . looks like you just had a baby about two months ago?”

This time she had to understand. “So . . . I am a single mother now, my baby is not quite two months old. I have four other children all under the age of six . . . I am no longer married . . . and I will not be having sex, because I am . . . not married . . . I . . . am . . .  I am single.” 

As the words slipped out of my lips, I got a pit in my stomach. Single. I was now a single woman, a place I never thought I would be again. I had not even considered my recent step into widowhood as a catapult throwing me back into the realms of single life. Just seven years earlier, I had pictured my wedding day as the moment I overcame the obstacle of being a single woman, but here I was again . . . and this time, the odds of ending another period of being single were even less in my favor.  

Sitting in that doctor’s office, and fighting the nurse about birth control, was an eye-opener for me. I had some work to do. The morals I held as a single adult before my marriage to Emmett were still just as important to me now, as they were back then. I was a single woman again, but this time . . . I was dragging behind me five beautiful additions. 

As I drove home from my appointment, I pictured walking into a singles’ ward at church carrying Tytus in his car seat on one arm, Kaleeya on my hip, and my other three children waddling behind me. I chuckled to myself as I pictured all the eyes that would turn their gaze toward me . . . not as an inappropriate “check-out” . . . but to watch my circus entering the building. Yes, a singles’ ward sounded like it would be a lot of entertainment . . . but it probably wasn’t the crowd I was looking for. I might have become a single woman again, but the single life I once knew was far from where I was now. 

One night, a few weeks later, I got a crazy idea that I should go looking around in Emmett’s e-mail account. It seemed like it would be a nice break from going through his box of crap in the garage. Since receiving his e-mail and password for Facebook, I figured it would be easy to get into his g-mail account and see what it contained.  

My heart was racing. I felt like I was a high school girl again . . . driving by a cute boy’s house. I slowly typed in the username and password. It worked!  I looked around me to make sure no one was watching, as if I were doing something sneaky. The list of recent e-mails pulled up. Many of them were messages he had received on his Facebook account after his death. Some of them I had read, and others were new. 

I kept scrolling down . . . searching for any juicy e-mails from the days before he died. I just knew the e-mails I was searching for had to have some new information for me. I kept scrolling, and scanning the names from whom the e-mails were sent. 

KANDI! And there it was. The first of any saved e-mails I had seen from Kandi. I opened it. It was a picture of her, in what looked like her daughter's high school prom dress. That wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted the meat of the case. I wanted to see hate mail from Rob and love letters from Kandi. I craved to see the ugly facts with my own eyes, so my heart could shut the book that was permanently waiting on its shelf to be read. I needed real closure.  

I kept scrolling. His account was strewn with singles’ websites. Singles? Dating? It hadn’t crossed my mind that there could have been more women than her. I had secretly hoped her spell was the only thing that had made his eye wander. 

That night, I came to know even more about the man I had loved, who was now gone. He didn’t have just one stupid affair with a woman he thought could help him progress in his career. No, he had been out searching for more women! 

This time, my detective work did not bring me the peace for which I was hoping. It stirred up new emotions within me. 

Single life . . . was that really the path he was seeking?  

I was sitting alone at a computer . . .  still trying to do the impossible—save a marriage that no longer existed. And while Emmett had had all that I still craved . . . he was looking for something else. Something less! It didn’t make sense to me. What part of this lonely life of being single did he find so appealing? 

Before I met Emmett, I had a lot of experience with being single. It was a title I can’t say I would ever search for again. I had some great times as a single adult, but there was nothing about it that appealed to me as an alternative to the safety I felt in being committed in marriage. 

Now, I found myself forced back into the single life, which before my marriage, I had spent so much time . . . trying to “overcome.” 

In my young single years, I can remember many dates I had with lots of different types of men. A few times, I even thought I had found “the one.” The minute I felt like “I could see myself with this guy,” I would plan out our life in my mind. I threw my heart in before the guy even asked for it. 

I would put so much thought into the idea of being with him, that I no longer held the power over my own happiness. I would sit by my phone . . . and its silence would shatter my night . . .  or my month, for that matter. At that time, my ultimate feeling of self-worth could come from a phone call . . . or could be destroyed by the lack thereof. 

In the end, a few of “the one”s never did call again. It wouldn’t just break my heart, it would cause me to doubt myself and my worth. I spent many weekends in a state of depression because of the lack of a promised call. Why? In that moment, when my feelings of self-worth were at an all-time low, I truly believed I had lost my chance at love. If that boy didn’t call back after the first date, somehow I was no longer beautiful or lovable. Somehow, I would never be enough.  

Then with the ones who did call back. . . I would find reasons why they weren’t good enough for me, and I would push them away. Sometimes it would be as stupid as hating the shoes he wore, or that I couldn’t stand the fact that his mother still did his laundry for him. I didn’t like the fact that he spent more time on his hair than I did, or that he was too quiet . . . or too loud. The list of stupid reasons for which I would push guys away was longer than the number of first dates who never called again. 

Unfortunately, between those two types of dating experiences, I found myself allowing my view of myself to come from my experiences with men. I didn’t have enough self-worth to keep myself from allowing the missed phone calls, or the stupid shoes, from determining if I was happy or not. I believed my happiness was based on the perfection others found in me. I needed them to tell me I was worth their time, before I allowed myself to be worth my own time. 

Some of us, as singles, spend our days walking around looking for Mr. Right. Instead of becoming “right” ourselves, we look for him on the outside and hope he can generate a belief of our worth, which we can’t seem to find in ourselves. Until Emmett came into my life, I walked around secretly hoping I was on the right sidewalk at school to lead me to my Mr. Perfect. Every morning, I got ready just in case I ran into him. I went to the grocery store to buy healthy foods so I would be perfect for him. I went to the gym so I would have the type of body he was looking for. Most of my decisions were not made for me, but for the imaginary dream boy for whom I was searching. 

And when I found him, it WAS perfect. He believed in me, he told me I was special, and he adored everything I did. My worth was safe, and my fears of rejection seemed to be in the past. 

The night Emmett died, it was much more than just automatically getting thrown back into singlehood. Once again, I had to face all those fears that Emmett had calmed. I didn’t want to be single. I didn’t know how to find worth in myself because I had used him as my gauge if ever I wondered if I was a good person, a good mom, or a good wife. And up until about three months before he died . . . it had worked! He believed in me. He encouraged me, and he lifted my feelings of self-worth higher and higher. 

Being single again was daunting. Sitting at that computer reading notes from a singles’ website changed something inside of me. He had been searching for others to fill the void in his view of his worth. That was crazy to me, especially as his wife who had done my very best to let him know of his worth. And yet, hadn’t I been searching and waiting for him to fill the void I had within myself? Wasn’t that just as crazy? Did he really need other women to give him his sense of worth? Did I really need a husband to let me know that I was a wonderful person?

Now was my chance to search, but not for another single person to tell me that I was enough. It was my turn to search for myself. Who was Ashlee? What does Ashlee want, and who is Ashlee supposed to become? Questions raged inside me, helping me look past the loneliness of singlehood and fueling the desire to know who I really was. Being married could not be what defined who Ashlee was anymore. I had to remember—for the first time in my life—who God had sent me to earth to be, and who I really was.

It wasn't Emmett that had made me great. It was ME. His words, though they were encouraging, were not what I needed anymore. He was gone. I was single, and I wanted to become okay with the single life that had come back upon me. I vowed to myself that I would never again let another person determine my happiness. I knew I had a long road ahead of me. I knew that one day, I would have to do the things I had done in my past as a single person. It didn’t have to be scary, it didn’t have to be lonely . . . because this time around, I wasn’t going to look for anyone to tell me something I didn’t already know on my own. 

Being single offered a new view for me. I didn’t need to let my happiness be determined by a phone call or a date. I was going to be happy being single. I figured it would be years before I decided to head down the road of commitment again, but until that time, I was going to make the most of my life. In the past, my desire for marriage had always driven my choices. Where to live and who to be was driven by the hope of finding “the one.” Even a walk to school could become an imagined heavenly intervention for me to find Mr. Right. Don’t get me wrong, I know Heavenly Father helps our paths cross with those who can bring us joy, but constantly seeking it, is not a way to live. What I wish I had known then as a young single adult, which I know now, is to just live. Find happiness in yourself and not in a phone call that does or does not come. Happiness is inside of you. It’s not a gift that comes in the form of another person. Yes they can increase the happiness we have, but it cannot be another person that creates it.

Search for the man who is compatible with you, as you are right now. Search for a girl who can sacrifice and forgive and work hard. Find a partner who can complete you. Quit waiting for an imaginary perfect being, because even if you find him or her, what will he or she see in you? I know we want what we want, but we must seek what the Lord wants for us. He knows the qualities that will bring you lasting happiness . . . and they aren’t usually measured by the world’s standards. Find the standard that the Lord has set.

Your future doesn’t have to hold riches for it to be wonderful. You might be blessed with an amazing person who adores and cherishes you, who is merely just “an apple picker.” Happiness is not promised, it is achieved through hard work. If that apple picker puts God above him or herself, and can sacrifice and encourage and be kind, then those are the things that will really matter in the end. 

Looks can be shattered in a moment. Cars will crash, houses can burn, diseases can cripple, and bullets can fire. Money can be spent, investments can go bad, and cars can be taken away. What really matters is what is inside a person.  Look deeper than the surface.

They may not be the star basketball player your mom always told you to find; they may not have ever been invited to step onto a runway . . . but these imperfect single people who are right where you are . . . maybe all they need is for you to let them in. Maybe then, you will see how amazing they are. 

It is true, you have to be attracted to a person. What attractions are holding you back from meeting the right one? What standards have you set for the person you seek that will never be realized? If you are a single adult, now is your time to put both feet in. Be you . . . maybe that won’t be enough for everyone . . . but let it be enough for yourself. 

Until you realize that the true kind of love will only come when you are true to yourself, you will push them away.  Be you, and if they walk away, at least it is you they are leaving and not a pretend person you were trying to be. If they let you go when you are yourself, at least they leave you standing. If it is the other person holding you up, you will fall. Standing tall as yourself is a lot easier than being crushed into a million pieces and gluing the broken bits back together. 

You may find that even after you have found yourself, people still leave. That’s okay, because if they don’t see you now, they never will. Before you commit to your dream spouse, become the person you always dreamed you would be. But if you have found someone who truly sees you, even when you can’t see yourself . . . it’s okay to let him in too. He might see the part of you you’re trying to hide, and still not walk away. 

What if we get rejected? What if we aren’t enough? I can promise you, that at some point in our lives, we will all face rejection. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but someday you might not measure up for someone you care about. So what? Who cares? You are still the same person you started as. It doesn’t mean you turn on yourself as well.

Rejection, and suffering losses don’t just come to those of us who have been married. A loss can be as simple as that phone call that never comes. Rejection can be interpreted as being anytime our desires are not met. Feelings of serious loss, betrayal, and confusion can cloud your mind. The stages of grief can come from the loss of a love you once thought was going to be yours, even if it was just one date. As single adults—single, divorced, or widowed—there are many lonely nights and many depressing days. We cannot let them define who we think we are. Those nights when you feel you are suffering alone, seek peace from a God who is always there. He knows you are suffering alone, let Him join you and remind you of the worth He sees in you. 

Spend less time worrying about your checklist for others and more time figuring out what qualities on the list you want to develop. So he doesn’t ever call you back, or friend you on Facebook? What matters is that you are true to the ‘you’ God made you to be. It would be easy to pretend to be someone you are not, but in the end, you will forget who you really are. Be you, and let it be enough. It is only you that can find the mission you were sent to this earth to fulfill.

Single life before Emmett, was just a search for the “one” to help me progress. Once he was gone and I realized I must still find a way to move forward, my eyes became open to a new view of being a single adult. I was not the little girl who was searching for reassurance; I was an adult searching for myself. I knew being single would be a different experience this time around, but I was determined to just have faith. I couldn’t wait around for someone to hold me up. All I had was myself, my family, and God. I was a single mom who was not going to fall. I had to stand.

Being single can suck. Love can be hard. But love for yourself and for another is what life is all about. Don’t let anyone break you. Don’t let another person determine if you smile. That phone call wasn’t meant to be. Let it go. Cling to the things you can control, and let the others go. Ready or not, love might come your way, but you must remember who you are. 

Being single is not a punishment or a sentence. It is a time in our lives when we get to put our needs first. It is a time to reflect upon the person we want to be; and a chance for us to realize that who we are is enough for Him. 

We hear stories about rejection and loss, and it almost furthers our cause to just remain single forever. Mine is one of those stories. Emmett’s choices and Rob’s anger put me in a state of raw rejection and serious loss: the loss of a life I loved, the loss of the life I thought I had, the loss of the love I had shared so deeply, and the loss of any sign of true commitment. A perfect storm for a recipe of a life of forever being single. . . Right? 

Before March 11, 2011, if you were to tell me that I would have to tread through a pain so immeasurable . . . I would have run away. I had heard simple version of stories like mine, and sworn that there was no way I would still be breathing. I didn’t know I could do hard things . . . until they were done.  

As I stand today, I can see that even through that hell storms . . . I am still the same person I was before, but with even more strength and belief in myself. 

You might get rejected, you might even lose at love . . . but what do you really have to lose, if you don’t have it right now? 

 I lost everything in love, but here I am. Yes, it still hurts sometimes. It still brings me to my knees every single day. I still cry, I still have doubts . . . but I am still me. If changing my past meant not having my five children and the relationship I’ve developed with my Heavenly Father as He sent Angels to lift me up, I wouldn’t change anything. My past embodies the fears of all the singles who are afraid of commitment. Don’t let your fears of losing, stop you from loving. The love that surrounds me today is stronger than any I have ever known, even though the losses I have endured have hurt more deeply than any I could have imagined. 

Set standards for yourself, and don’t waver. Set expectations for your future lover, but don’t get so set on who they are supposed to be . . . that you cannot see them. If you are too busy staring at your list, you will miss seeing the qualities that are uniquely theirs. Strive to be the best you, and hope for the best them . . . and then when you find each other, and you both seem to fall short . . . Let God fill in the gaps. He believes in marriage. He believes in love. He cries when we do; and He hurts when we hurt.  Marriage is hard; love can hurt . . . but so can being alone. 

Maybe you have never had a second date in your life. So what if you have never had the passionate embrace of a first kiss? Maybe your dream boy has always been in your view, but has never asked you out. Maybe your perfect girl has been your best friend all along, but you have been too busy watching all the other girls who walk by her. Where ever you are, if you are not in a serious relationship . . . you are single. You may feel alone, but you are not. There are so many of us who have sat home alone, single, wishing for a life that we righteously desired. Don’t give up on love . . . but even more importantly . . . please don’t give up on yourself. God believes in marriage, and he created love . . . but he also created us. Even if you have never loved, or never do . . . he believes in you.

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