Kimly's · Kimly's Trade

I’m Back! I think.

I don’t know entirely what the hell happened between me and blogging, but after a long break-up, we’re talking about getting back together. In many ways, this is the conversation; I’m having it with the keyboard and I’m having it with you.

Honestly, this is all pouring out of me so quickly, maybe I’ll give you a little background.

Earlier this week, my publisher contacted me about rewriting my already published novel, Where the Water Rages, so that they could sell the rights to a larger book distributor, where it could be marketed it to a wider audience. The larger distributor had read the novel and emailed a review, which included changes that needed to be made so that the story would appeal to more people. Some of the changes made me laugh, and I was able to distance myself from work that I did so many years ago. During which time my library grew, and I had the opportunity to have many talented professors and academic peers speak into my writing. So, when I heard that they thought Kimly was unbelievable—too impulsive, it made me smile a defeated grin. Kimly was penned, nine years ago, by a woman who herself was impulsive and made reckless decisions, often getting in over her head. Broken pieces of me pierce through that manuscript and some of them are fraught with inconsistencies. To put it more bluntly, I was a hot mess, trying to work out my shit. This, of course, is not a reason to disregard the editorial recommendation. Maybe Kimly does need a face lift. The top two comments about Kimly are one: that people find her annoying, and two: she reminds them of me. Hmmm…how odd. Hearing now that the woman with whom I can relate, doesn’t seem like a real person sends my little Enneagram 4 heart onto a rollercoaster of introspection.

So, yes, I would be willing to work with editors and make Kimly more likable. If there is an opportunity for me to grow as a writer and to learn how to be more relatable to people, sign me up!

But, wait, there’s more.

And this is where I get agitated.

I start to remember why I felt pressure to be creating something. Making something, churning something out. Churn. Churn. Churn churn church churn church. Churn Church…work for it, work for it…earn it…deserve it.

The change that the bigger book distributor recommended ((SPOILERS)) was that the romance between Kimly and Dak be made more intense, and possibly that their relationship lands differently at the end of the book. In other words, Kimly needs to fuck Dak and leave her cheating husband. Hmm. Do I want to write that story? I didn’t then, Praise God.

The next non-negotiable idea they suggested to increase sales was to have Kimly do something significant by the end of the story. As they put it, quoting my publisher reading their email, “readers feel cheated watching Kimly go through all of these experiences, but at the end, she doesn’t even write a ground-breaking editorial piece. She only saves one child.”

Wow.

For a long time, I felt so much pressure to do something significant. The feeling runs deep and goes back far, and I’ve done a lot of work to break it down and understand it. But as for writing, as I remember it, I was feeling pressure to stand apart, to be excellent at something and it emerged with the digital age. This need grew inside of me. A need to have a lot of followers, a bigger team, a best seller. To do something big within this new digital world. The idea of just being a kind human living a simple life was out there, but I didn’t know how to make it what I wanted. I wanted to want it.

And then I did.

And so did Kimly. She just did it before me.

So when the bigger book distributor suggests I write a Hollywood ending, my answer is a firm, maybe.

I mean…I am writing again, and if a woman emerges who gets the guy, cracks the case, and sells a truckload of books, then, by all means, she is welcome to the story! But as for Kimly, no.

Kimly went on a search for significance, where she met a man that made her question what she had within her marriage, she saw the love she could have for a child, and she discovered how deeply God loved her and the places he would go to save her. Kimly realized that the most significant thing she could do was to be involved in her marriage to make it work, to become a more attentive mother, and to care for the person directly in front of her. She didn’t write the big editorial piece because that is not what this particular fable is about.

Anyway, all of this to ask, does anyone read blogs anymore? Just wondering if it’s worth my time.

affair recovery

Beauty in the Aftermath

It was ten days after the affair had ended.

It was three days after my failure had been announced in a large public forum.

I wandered into my husband’s study and sat down at his computer and created this Blog-site.  As you may imagine, my head was spinning, my pride was still running rampant and there was a lot of humbling that still needed to be done in this train-wreck of a girl. In most ways, I had no business blogging. I didn’t have a clue about the trials that were coming our way.

A lifetime friend urged me to keep myself private, but as I stated, I was a prideful mess and I didn’t know how to submit to the wisdom of others. Like a caged animal, I thrashed around trying to escape the prison I had unwittingly created. Fortunately, God is bigger than the aftermath of our aftermath. He heard my cry for help in my first blog post, Exposure, and He drew near.

Since that time, God has humbled me in so many ways; He revealed where I needed to grow, and He continues to show me new areas everyday.

When I set up the blog I couldn’t imagine giving it a name. Honestly, I didn’t think it was more than a forum to unleash my ramblings to the seven people I originally invited to read. I had the blog settings on private. Even if someone had typed in the blog address they couldn’t get in and read it without an invitation. I never envisioned God using it in any way other than keeping me connected and accountable to a few safe people.

Over the last 13 months of writing, it has become obvious that writing is something I am called to do. It’s not obvious because of ease, because there is nothing easy about it. On a day to day basis, writing is one of the hardest things I do, but simultaneously, one of the things I crave. I probably don’t have to go into detail about why writing is hard.

nothing-to-writing-hemingway-quote-sign

So why the craving?

The craving comes from loving what you do and doing what you love. It’s about experiencing God in whatever that thing is that you do where you find Him. Joy comes when we are in a place that draws us closer to God.

Sure, confirmations from other people inspire us to continue.  Hearing from another person about the way they are being blessed by what we are creating means more than most of us know how to express, but complements mean nothing if we aren’t experiencing joy in the thing we are doing. If someone doesn’t enjoy reading and writing, affirmations alone will not bring enough joy to that person to compensate for the hours of reading and writing that they didn’t enjoy.

Also there’s this little oddity, a strength building joy comes from doing something you love that is equally hard because of the growth that comes through the enduring.

Growth doesn’t happen because someone tells you they liked what you did. It doesn’t work like that. Growth happens when we push ourselves beyond what we alone are capable of doing. In these instances, after we curse and cry, we make a choice. We either stop and find an easier path, or we lean into the hard thing until beauty arises in the chaos. As a believer we have the advantage of leaning into the Spirit of God. We aren’t in it alone.  

411737_10150619971141970_899374882_oIn 1995, our daughter, Molly Christine, died suddenly at the age of nineteen months and five days. That was easily one of the most formative things that had ever happened in my life. Following the Lord has been the most formative–but even my faith took a backseat to her loss for a while. The strange thing is, my faith didn’t take a backseat during the primitive days and years after losing Molly. It was quite the opposite, in fact. During the early awful times my faith was more real; more treasured.

There was true beauty in the aftermath of losing that little girl. In the most unexpected ways–beautiful things happened when we needed them to happen the most.

So here we are. A new crisis. A different crisis. A woman made crisis. My husband and I are walking another path of pain, and while sometimes we walk with the same stride–there are times we don’t. We both have immeasurable insecurities, but they come from different places. He has experienced a loss I will never fully understand. I experience guilt he absolutely cannot erase. As you might imagine, some days it’s extremely difficult to see beauty amid this mess.

We make choices.

Hearts lean in.

God shows His face.

Eyes adjust.

In those times we see beauty in the aftermath.

affair recovery · Community

And Then This Happened

5df09f89b76703dcd3a12d734a36e76bI didn’t plan on posting on the blog this week.

Yes, I did make a (late) New Year’s resolution that I would be more faithful in posting, by worrying less about the details that come with being a semi-perfectionist (a term I just made up, which is probably not even possible, since you cannot be perfect and be less than perfect or you aren’t perfect).

So, yes, I set a goal to post every Friday, or as close to it as possible. However, this week my son is visiting from another state, and I am leaving town on Thursday. So, I gave myself a gracious pass to skip a week of writing on the blog. I felt good about the decision.

And then this happened.

Last Friday evening I received a vile and disgusting comment on my blog. The writer, a male who resides in Ohio, gave himself a fictional name, and commented saying horrible things about me and my husband. The things he said were completely inaccurate. He made gross assumptions about our situation and my heart. He made completely inaccurate statements about God’s forgiveness. He assured me that I was not forgiven or redeemed.

I told my six closest people about it and asked them to pray for me and for the man. It was obvious that someone in his past had hurt him, and he was merely lashing out in an anonymous fashion rather than dealing with his own life issues. The six adult members of my family are my six closest people. All six of them were in agreement that the best thing to do was to ignore the hate mail, and pray for the man. I felt good about the decision.

And then this happened.

Yesterday, I received another comment on the blog. This comment was far worse than the first one. Fortunately, my son was in the room when I saw the notification. I told him what was happening and he quickly responded saying, “Don’t read it, Mom.”

My son then took over. He read the comment and moved it to the trash. I asked him what it had said. He told me the man had compared me to a Nazi. He told me the comment was extremely rude and vulgar. He also told me the man wants me to stop writing on my blog. After discussing the matter with my six closest people we decided, once again, it would be best to just continue to ignore the frustrated Ohio resident. I felt good about the decision.

And then this happened.

In the few hours I had between shifts at the restaurant, I was relaxing at home when I received an incoming text message from a young mom who attends the church I previously attended. Without going into detail, I will share that she was contacting me because she and her husband are in crisis. She needed some specific information from me, and I was very pleased I could supply it. Then she asked me to pray and shared more of the details. My heart beat hard in my chest and I wanted to crawl through the phone and hug her.

We had just wound down our text messaging thread when the phone alerted me to another incoming text. I was surprised when I saw it wasn’t her–but a different woman. This woman is new in my life and has only come into my life because of the blog. She and her husband have been going through a difficult time in their marriage. One Sunday morning this woman had gone forward for prayer at her church, the woman in the prayer room prayed with her, and then she told her she might want to read my blog. She read some of the posts and then she contacted me and we connected. Since that time we have been able to have a conversation on the phone and several text message conversations as well.

As I was reading today’s text messages asking for prayer, I felt such an enormous amount of love for this woman whom I have never met. She is trying desperately to hold her life together and make good decisions. I understand her need for advice in order to achieve such a feat.

Imagine you were in the habit of making really bad decisions for a long period of time. One day, you decide you are going to start start making good decisions. Do you believe a change of that nature comes naturally? One of the hardest things I had to relearn was how to make decisions that were not based on my emotions. One of the ugliest things I had to learn to recognize in myself was my selfishness.

I was blessed to have people available to me to help me with these things. I had people I could call on to pray for me and help me get through the beginning stages–stages which lasted for almost a year. Without people available to pray for me and with me, I am not sure what self-destructive decisions I would have made.

I cannot believe how fortunate I am to get to be on the other side of that scenario.

Tonight, as I think about the text messages along with the comments from the Ohio man, which were both flying around cyber-space, I cannot help but recognize the Spiritual warfare involved in the timing. It made me realize, I no longer felt good about decision I had made. I am not going to ignore the comments from the man in Ohio.

I will tell you quite plainly, Mr. Ohio, that I will not stop writing and offering hope to people who have fallen. In the first line of the first email, you told me that I saw myself as a victim and you are quite wrong. I am not a victim. I am the furthest thing from a victim. My sin didn’t happen to me. I willfully chose my sin. But, I don’t believe compassion is only for victims. I believe in compassion and grace for the sinners as well. I believe restoration and forgiveness are available for all of God’s people. I hope that you lose interest in my little blog and move along to something that brings joy into your life, but in the meantime, you can be guaranteed that I will continue to share what God is doing in our marriage and the good that is coming despite the horrible thing that I chose. You can be assured that I will tactfully relate the pain when necessary and the push through the shame of what I did to my family. I will not hide and wait for people like you to decide when I am allowed to be a part of society and how that is to look. You can also know with certainty that I won’t read any of your comments. I have six of my closest people to make sure I won’t have to.

And, I feel good about that decision.

affair recovery

Stop Being Happy on Facebook

“I pray God uses you to break new ground and make an eternal difference. However, when He does, you must brace yourself for more criticism and pain than you might imagine.” -Craig Groeschel, Dare to Drop the Pose

Facebook is a strange world, and I have met many people who describe themselves as having a love/hate relationship with the online community driven app. It’s partially perplexing, because it’s rules are unestablished. What is acceptable to one “friend” may cross a line for another “friend”. One truth most users will agree on is this: Facebook is not real.

I can jump on my computer at 6 AM and see pictures of a young couple going to their High School Prom. In naivety, I could assume they are either very late or very early for the dance–since no one leaves for the Prom at sunrise.  In judgement, I could assume the happy couple are still at the Prom and have chosen to ignore all recommendations of what would be a sensible curfew for 16-year-olds. Or, in relative wisdom, I could look at the time stamp and see that the picture is 12 hours old. In this obvious scenario, Facebook users recognize it would be foolish for me to make one of the first two assumptions.

In keeping with the Prom theme, it would be equally foolish for me to assume that what I see in the picture tells the whole story. Upon further investigation, perhaps I would learn that this was a bad date all around. If the girl were to confide in me, perhaps she would share that she wished she had chosen more comfortable shoes, that her date spent the whole night pressuring her with sexual advances, or that her closest friends left early and went to a party where they got drunk. Perhaps she would admit that she had huge disappointments for how her Prom night had turned out.

We all know how this turned out....
Like – Comment – Share

And yet, the pretty picture would still sit nicely on her timeline. Still collecting “Likes”.

Several months ago, when my affair was made public to the women’s group at our church, I began receiving Facebook messages from women who attend the same church as myself. Most of them wanting to encourage me to cling to God. Some of them wanted to reach out to me because they themselves had felt the sting of this particular sin.  Reading these emails made me realize there might be women who were looking for a way to understand their own journey. Once I began blogging, the enormity of the emails only increased, and they became more geographically widespread. Some of the women who have contacted me failed in their own vows, and some of them have husbands who have been unfaithful. Their stories are all different, but the common theme is a desire to connect and express the feelings they are having about their own journey.

Soon the blog stats showed that the posts were being read by people not just in the United States but around the globe. I was dumbfounded to imagine anyone in Tunisia would want to read what I wrote, let alone nine people in the Netherlands. (side note: where the heck is Tunisia?) However, I was able to recognize this: it had very little to with my writing, and more to do with what God might be doing.

This week I received my first piece of HATE mail, and the private message was downright mean. The writer indicated that my documentation of my journey was an assault to her. She went on to explain that while she was married to her previous husband, who had also been a pastor, she had an affair. She shared that she did not make her affair public. She doesn’t like the message I am sending for many reasons, but the saddest of all is because she doesn’t believe it is possible for a marriage to ever recover from infidelity.  Her message to me had many accusations, but the first concept was simply this: Stop being happy on Facebook.

The writer bluntly stated, “How can you possibly pretend to have this perfect life on FB and go on knowing things will actually never be the same.”  I was saddened when I read her words, because as she went on to share her story it was evident that her infidelity had led to the end of her marriage. I was also sad, because after she emailed me, she blocked me so I couldn’t respond to her. There were things I would want to give to her, not in an attempt to defend my life–but in an attempt to help her find hope in her own life.

I began to ponder what she had said. I asked myself if I was “pretending to have a perfect life on FB.” I thought about the pictures I have posted of myself–mostly pictures of my granddaughter or my husband and myself.

Isla in the Pool

  • Did I take my granddaughter swimming this week? Yes.
  • Did my granddaughter cry when I took her out of the pool and made her take a nap. Yes…but I didn’t photograph that.

D&J at Village Eatery

  • Did I dine with my husband at our favorite coffee shop on Monday morning? Yes.
  • Did we go to that coffee shop after an emotionally draining morning dealing regret and disappointment? Yes…but I didn’t mention it in a status update.

That made me think about the Prom scenario–the picture of the couple is taken and that reflects a part of the story, but not the story in its entirety. Even the painful things the teenager encountered may have silver linings. Perhaps she took off her shoes and danced barefoot for the first time. Perhaps the behavior of her date and her friends solidified truths that her parents or church youth leaders had been pouring into her. This night of crisis had exposed what she herself believed about peer pressure and purity, and perhaps–for her–this was an evening of victory.  Not documenting every single detail of the Prom date on Facebook does not mean the teenage girl was pretending to have gone to the Prom any more than I am pretending to have a perfect life.

I think of the rest of the accusation: “How can you possibly pretend to have this perfect life on FB and go on knowing things will actually never be the same

Going on knowing things will never be the same is not a fear, it is a hope.

I don’t want the marriage I had, and my husband doesn’t want that marriage either. We have been working to embrace every aspect of this trial to allow it to transform us. Following any failure, there is a window of opportunity for transformation. Transformation is not a guarantee with failure–it is a choice. We either mask and hide when our failure is revealed, or we walk through it. Just because a person fails does not mean they will be transformed by the failure. Living in and experiencing the natural consequences–not covering them up is the road that must be traveled to find transformation. The natural consequences of sin are purely emotional and spiritual, and are not the same as man’s judgement of sin. But, most people don’t like to deal with emotions that are raw and painful. One of the most difficult aspects to embrace is the grief. With infidelity there is grief, and no person in their right mind likes grief.

Grief visited our home two decades ago when our 19-month-old daughter died. The difference this time is we are also dealing with shame and blame. The other difference is that this time, while we are both experiencing grief–it is from opposite sides of a two sided fence. The challenge early on was to try to get on the same side of the fence, but we couldn’t. We needed a third side on our two sided fence. For a third side of a fence to present itself, we needed a miracle.

With each of us clinging to the long, strong arm of God, He pulled us each up and over our opposite sides of the fence so that we would be in a new pasture–we moved to His side of the fence. As long as we remain in this new pasture, things won’t be the same.

The truth of our past reminds me of this: when we faced grief with the death of our daughter, we still took our other three children to the park to feed the ducks, we still taught them how to ride their bicycles, and we still cheered for them at swim meets. We grieved deeply for what we had lost, but we still enjoyed the beauty in the life we had. Granted there was no Facebook to document the life we were pretending to have, so perhaps it never happened at all.