I don’t blame you.
I also don’t believe you are without fault.
But I want you to know I am sure this has been hard for you, too.
You only heard one perspective; my husband’s viewpoint, filtered by what he most wanted you to hear, is all you know.
It’s not the complete picture.
I don’t like that you are most frequently referred to as “the other woman.” It dehumanizes and distances you. I know your name. I know your face. I don’t know you personally, just as you don’t know me. But just as I don’t want you to make assumptions about me, I have tried not to make assumptions about you.
However, for you or anyone else in your position in the future, please keep in mind:
- A family is worth fighting for. Whether it’s your family or not, value it enough to put it ahead of your own wishes and comfort.
- Never assume a relationship is beyond repair, unless you also assume every relationship you have or will have will also be irreparable at some point.
- Refuse to encourage a deepening relationship. While it is true that someone who is looking for intimacy outside a marriage will find it somewhere else if not with you, you don’t need to be the one who makes it easy.
- Demand honesty for yourself, for my husband, for me, and for our family. Vehemently search for truth even when it’s uncomfortable.
- Respect yourself enough to not believe you are the only one who feels this way and has made him feel this way.
- Respect me enough to seek the truth about me. The more you distance yourself from me and make me into who you want to assume I am, the more you dehumanize me and make your choices easier.
- Respect my husband enough to want him to be healthy. Being happy in the short-term isn’t worth the cost when other areas of life are compartmentalized and set aside.
- Respect my children – no matter how old they are. What you are told about how they will handle your relationship is probably not accurate. If my husband lost perspective in one area of life, it likely shifted the perspective accuracy of other areas of life.
- Take a breath and step away. If you want to pursue him, there will be time later to do that. Give my family space to process and heal.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for your consideration and respect.
I have forgiven you.
The printers at work have been busy lately.
I sent something to the printer, walked the 8-10 steps to pick it up, which is usually the right amount of time for a page or two, but nothing was waiting or printing. I could hear something happening, so I looked at the display:
“Calibrating. Please wait.”
Did I have a choice?
I smiled as I reflected how often life is just that: “Calibrating. Please wait.”
I’m thankful God calibrates me. I’m not always thankful for the waiting process. But it is always worthwhile. He knows what he’s doing.
When I worked at a college several years ago, we often talked about the importance of developing lifelong learning skills. Learning the skills is secondary to fostering an attitude of lifetime learning. It requires the desire to anticipate possibilities, humility to change, and interactions with people and ideas. It requires thinking through things and developing theories, then engaging doubts and contradictions, then reworking established assumptions to incorporate the new that is trustworthy.
Lifelong learning admits “I don’t know it all.”
It continues “…but I want to know more.”
There is no shortage of access to “more.” We have access to a staggering amount of information. But content isn’t nearly as important as process when lifelong learning is concerned. It’s not what you know as much as what you do with it – and what you are potentially capable of knowing. Lifelong learning is exciting, difficult, and worthwhile.
I certainly cannot learn, access, or absorb everything, but the past year-plus has brought many changes that have invited opportunities to learn, grow, and change. It hasn’t been just about forging forward; much lifelong learning involves looping into the past to rework, reflect, heal, and reconcile.
Lifelong learning is not a direct route, but the journey is worth the effort.
Open your eyes, ears, mind, heart, and soul today.
I packed my lunch for a day away from the office. When I unpacked my food to eat, I sighed with appreciation. My daughter had given me the lunch bag, and a best friend had given me the containers to keep my food cold. My lunch that day was seasoned with the blessing of special people in my life.
I love pouring into others. Listening to, encouraging, and challenging others enriches my life. Relationships, even when they are difficult, are purposeful. What we experience with others develops us into who we are. It involves give and take, which includes bold honesty and humility, abundant grace and forgiveness, and sacrificial choices. Sometimes we’re not willing to give, and we lose. Others lose, too.
Invest in others today. Allow others to invest in you today. It is worth the humility and effort. It can make life – even a simple lunch eaten alone – much more delicious.
This sits on my bookcase at work, reminding me to choose to live a great story. That doesn’t mean pretending I’m living a story I want but don’t have. A great story is always authentic.
The dandelions remind me of other qualities of living a great story:
- The height of bloom isn’t the only beautiful and necessary part of a great story.
- We have to be willing to die throughout our story. A great story is a process.
- A great story involves giving yourself away and trusting God to use pieces of yourself to help others.
You cannot live a great story completely in one day, but today you can live one day – and many moments – of a great story.
Pain demands to be felt.
A high school friend posted a photo of her new tattoo. She shared the back story, including several recent struggles – her own and people close to her. She wrote, “Yes, pain demands to be felt, but I don’t have to live in that pain…If I let it consume me, pain wins.”
I began to reflect on the statement and other options:
If I let ___________________ consume me, it wins.
If I let hostility consume me, it wins.
If I let bitterness consume me, it wins.
If I let betrayal consume me, it wins.
If I let deception consume me, it wins.
If I let addiction consume me, it wins.
If I let compassion consume me, it wins.
If I let forgiveness consume me, it wins.
If I let peace consume me, it wins.
If I let faith consume me, it wins.
If I let joy consume me, it wins.
If I let truth consume me, it wins.
What consumes us is what we invite and allow. Of course, we are not responsible for everything that happens in our lives, but we are responsible for how we respond and move forward. We have some say in what consumes us. We can choose the negative or the positive. We can choose to pretend what we don’t want in our lives doesn’t exist,or we can work through it and clear the way for what is more beneficial to focus on..
Life demands to be felt. Feel it, then filter those feelings and experiences. Choose your focus well.
Every time I read through the book of Nehemiah, I marvel at the teamwork among those who rebuilt the wall. Chapter three is filled with words such as “next to.” People worked next to each other. They worked together.
Another word is frequent: after.
Sometimes we work next to someone, and sometimes we work after (or before). Although we might not be side by side at the same time, we work together. Transitions are important. People lay groundwork for us, and we lay groundwork for others. It is important that we develop trust and respect. It is important we allow permission for people to accomplish something in ways that are different than us. We don’t have to tear down each other’s work and start fresh (although there are certainly times that’s important).
Appreciate the people you are working next to, after, or before today. Work together.