11 years ago today…

11 years ago today I embarked on a journey that has forever changed me…11 years ago today I married my best friend and the love of my life… 11 years ago today I promised to love him forever…11 years ago today I heard him promise the same to me and to my beautiful 4 year old daughter. 11 years ago today I was the happiest I had ever been…11 years ago today my life looked hopeful, exciting, and full of love.

But a lot can happen in 11 years. People change despite the perspective that they don’t. The dreams, ideals, and hopes of the young 20 somethings are sometimes too idealistic, unrealistic, and misguided to endure what life throws at you.

Almost 1 year ago my husband asked for a separation and 3 months ago divorce papers were filed. The divorce won’t be official till sometime this spring which means technically, today, I am still married….Its a weird irony to be married for 11 years, but knowing the last year was not one spent “married”. Do I tell people I was married for 10 years or 11? Do I get credit for the last year “served”, or do I have to pretend it didn’t happen even though it did?

Today is a hard day for me. I feel like I should be celebrating because this was a day marked for celebration! But I have been robbed of this day for the next 70 years….This day which was once filled with joy and love and promise will always be a day of grief in my heart now. Not because it happened, but because it no longer gets to continue to be the day it was set aside for…

But I am torn by how to feel today. Clearly I feel grief. Grief over the loss of my marriage, the loss of my “ideal nuclear family picture” the loss of the future I had dreamed of” and the loss of my best friend-which is really the hardest loss of all. But I also still feel like celebrating. Because while he no longer desires to be married to me…my heart promised to love him forever and I meant that. This year has been a very difficult year and I recognize now that reconciliation is not possible. But just because we can’t work things out doesn’t mean I didn’t whole-heartedly choose him in the first place. So a part of me still desires to celebrate the life we had even if there’s grief in the loss of what we could have had.

My daughter asked me once during this terrible journey that has been 2019 if I would have married him knowing now what I know.  This is such a challenging question. Instincts would say No! of course not. The heartache, the tears, the lies, the broken dreams and promises…..why would I do that again? Why would I bring 4 beautiful children into a world that was destined to be broken and leave them scarred and confused? And yet…

I married him intentionally. He wasn’t perfect. I had my flaws. Our relationship has struggled from day one…probably way more than most. But the person he is today is not the person he was back then, good or bad. I loved the person he was. And believed in “us” and what we saw for our future. We now hold very different perspectives about the world, God, our lives…..but back then our perspectives are what brought us together. And I very much fell in love with his heart…So despite my instinct….I think I probably would have married him even if I had known…but I probably would have done some things differently that maybe could have helped us steer down a different path… We may still have ended up here, divorcing…but it may have been less painful. We may have been able to end the marriage with the friendship still intact….

It’s easy to get bitter. It’s easy to focus on the hurt, the betrayal, the problems…Its hard to walk in forgiveness, love, compassion, and strength. Its hard to choose whats best for the kids even when you really want to retaliate and choose anger and selfishness. But in the end, I choose to remember 1 thing.

I promised to love him; for better or for worse, for rich or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. I can choose to uphold my promise even if he breaks the covenant. How I do that will look very different now than the picture I had at the altar, but I can. His decisions don’t take away my ability to choose how to respond. I can still love him, celebrate what we had, choose to work with him for the best interest of our kids, set healthy boundaries that facilitate communicate and conversation rather than bitterness and quarreling. I can choose to still walk in Godly ways, praying for his heart, upholding him in front of our kids, and always seeking restoration (not the same thing as reconciliation).

I don’t have to trust him to love him. I can trust God and make wise decisions for me and the kids without compromising my heart. I can even move on someday and marry another and I don’t have to break my promise to still love and honor him.  This is a foreign concept in the world and many of my family and friends don’t understand when I say this. Just because the application and circumstances of a promise may change doesn’t mean the promise has to be broken. And just because someone makes a decision that completely changes your life doesn’t mean you can’t choose how to respond, uphold your convictions, and still be the best version of yourself in the process.

11 years ago today I promised to love Lane Buckingham for the rest of my life. I will continue to uphold that promise even in our divorce..

But today I promise to love myself for the rest of my life and to begin a new journey of self discovery, self care, and self actualization. So that some day I can look back on this day and say,  “11 years ago today I committed to becoming the best version of myself and to always learning how to walk in love, choosing hope over bitterness, and to persevering no matter what obstacles come….

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