Tuesday, February 11, 2014

God Gave Me Two 02.11.14


I'm three. My sister is five. I don't know what divorce is. 

I have some memories of that time...

I had just had a birthday party. I had gotten this small doll from one of my grandparents.  I was sitting on my front porch playing with this doll when the front doors opened and they were moving my mom's bed out of our house. Not very crazy, not very dramatic. Just a small memory. 

I remember when my dad was single and his staple meals for us were beanie weenies (still love them) and Mike's Pizza (and we always ate the elephant ear before the pizza..cool dad points). He would also take us to Corner Cafe before school and I would eat toast and jelly with a sunny side up. 

I remember when my mom got the apartment. One Easter eve night, a bunny came by our sliding glass door and mom said it was the Easter bunny and he was waiting for us to go to sleep.  I remember getting our bunk beds. I remember when McLaine was at school, mom would let me watch the Lion King 800 times a day. And then she got me Lion Kind bedding. 

My first major memories are of when I met my step parents for the first time. David came home from the Army and I thought he was wonderful and funny. And I thought Christina was the most beautiful lady ever.  And then eventually I was in my parent's weddings (2 weddings). I look back on those times and remember how happy I was.  I was 4/5 years old and I was getting my hair and make up done and wearing a beautiful dress...what more could a little girl want? 

But then, I remember the nights where I would cry and cry and cry because I wanted to be with my mom when I was at my dad's (2 homes).  As time went by, I adjusted the best I could.  I don't think you ever fully adjust to the "Wednesdays and every other weekends" deal. 

I felt like I had two of everything:

2 families
2 moms
2 dads
2 sets of maternal and paternal grandparents
2 addresses
2 phone numbers
2 beds
2 churches
2 Christmases

(on top of that I now had 2 brothers and 2 sisters.. instead of just 1 sister)

I used to say my favorite number was 2.  Still do.

All the things that are familiar to a kid, I had them.  I just had two, which made everything unfamiliar. Because they were different. SO different. Each family functioned differently.  We ate different things, used different words, went to bed at different times, did different things for fun, we had different rules... for a toddler/young girl/teenager/young adult--it was all so confusing. 

Why can't I use the shampoo in the bathroom? At my other house we all share the shampoo in the bathroom.

Why can't I go to bed at this time? With my other family it wasn't a big deal...

I couldn't keep up. And as I grew older, I was embarrassed because it seemed like none of my friends could relate.  "I can't come over on Wednesdays because that's my dad's night." "He's my step brother, which means we aren't blood related....?"  

All of this, I realize, shaped me into a pretty independent person.  I learned to do my own hair, dress myself, pour my own cereal, pack my lunch and bags, all while I was pretty young. (Props to my DD for learning to do my hair, because mom was gone in the morning.)  I also learned time management...I somehow managed to do really well in school while dealing with a split (or double) family. 

I don't think this is the way God intended it to be.  I don't think God meant for marriage to have an escape plan. Actually, I know He didn't.  I wouldn't wish dealing with the aftermath of a divorce on my worst enemy. And it's funny, because some people see divorce as an escape plan...   People think that divorcing someone leaves all of the pains and dirtiness of your marriage behind and in the past. I'm here to tell you it doesn't. There is an aftermath people forget to consider, especially if you have children.  They will experience pain from this, too. When divorced parents fight, kids of divorced parents listen.  And if they're anything like me, they will blame themselves.  And when divorced parents talk bad about one another, kids of divorced parents listen.  And if they're anything like me, it will break their hearts.  I wanted to take sides, to please one set of parents. But felt guilty because just like a parent could never pick a favorite child, a child struggles with picking a favorite parent. We love you both, and we want to be loved and accepted by both of you. 

I love my parents. I love them fiercely. 

...AND I never felt unloved as a kid (still don't).  I'm (hashtag) blessed.  There are some kids who go through divorces who often feel unloved. My parents had 50/50 custody. They both wanted us. They both loved us. They didn't go a day without telling us.  We were so fortunate. My parents tried really hard to make sure we didn't deal so harshly with the consequences of their decision to not be married.

To be honest, I can't bring this full circle. I will try by saying, God used all this experience to open my heart up really wide and let a lot of people in. It taught me forgiveness. It taught me how to deal with change REALLY well.  It taught me flexibility. It taught me acceptance.  It taught me a lot about marriage.  Because, God blessed both my parents with beautiful marriages after they divorced each other.  And believe it or not, I have heard both my parents say that they are thankful they were married, if not for any other reason that their marriage gave them my sister and I. 

Divorce did not harden me. Instead, I love really hard. Because God gave me two of everything to love.

Love you all.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Not Your Average Testimony 02.03.14

I'll start by saying that it has taken me some time to come up with the courage to begin writing this.

There are few people I have ever shared my full testimony with.  

I could give you the short version: My parents divorced when I was 3 years old, I lived a really confused life, and then I met Jesus (I mean, really met him...not just experienced parts of him).  But that's not what I'm writing this blog for.

This is going to be my raw, uncut, unfiltered, extremely vulnerable story.  My struggles, sins, and victories from age 3 to now. From Scarlet To Snow.

It’s terrifying. Honestly, my hands sweat just thinking about making myself so vulnerable. But, I feel like I’m at a place in my life where I’m ready. It will probably be emotional, there are some things in my life I have not combed through in quite a while. However, there absolutely is someone out there that will benefit from hearing about the hurt that I have gone through and the triumph and victory I have experienced through Jesus Christ.

Which brings me to my next point... this is NOT for my own benefit. This is all for His glory. While I believe Jesus brings us through hard stuff for our own edification, he also does this so that we can bless the people around us. "When God's promises to you are fulfilled, the promises of other's will be manifested through you." -Jim Wiegand

I'll warn you, this story is dramatic. It's not for the lighthearted.  Jesus dealt with some really heavy sins (and he's still dealing with them, because I'll never be perfect...). But, it's my favorite love story. 

Jesus settled all my heartache, Jesus settled all that pain and hurt, he settled all of it.  2000 and some years ago he said, "I know Shelby Suzanne. I know her blue/green eyes with the little freckle and I know her passionate heart.  I know what she's going to go through.  I know she's going to hurt bad. She's going to struggle and flounder and cry.  But eventually she will turn to me and love me.  And when she does, I'm going to pick her up and hold her close and say it's ok and forgive her.  So, I'm gonna die for her today."

Yeah, it's pretty cool. He did that for you, too. He thought about you, too. 

So, all this to say...welcome to my story, or rather, His story. I have a lot to cover, but I promise there's a great beginning at the end. 

Love you guys.