When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part Two

Well, hello there, friends! Ready for part two of this crazy tale?

If not, you can find part one here.

Ok. Ready now?

Let’s see…when we left off, I was fed up with being a lonely single mama.

First, I admit I did look around my church with a fresh eye, hoping someone I hadn’t noticed in my “waiting on a miracle” days might have possibilities.

But…

Honestly, even though there were a couple of nice guys, there weren’t really any leaping at the opportunity to date a hurting mom of three, two on the autism spectrum.

Well, understandable. It isn’t for everybody. 😏

So, that idea dashed, I grabbed my phone one night (after about the umpteenth time bawling with deep-seated envy over old movies with “happily ever afters”. ).

I did the googly thingy and found one of the more famous dating sites, let my somewhat windy writing style have a field day, agonized through selfies and set up shop in the “looking for love” business.

A rather silent affair for a time, frankly. I reached out to the nice-sounding ones.

I found myself ignored.

I attempted aloofness.

Aloofness was what I got in return.

Go figure.😉

And then, I think I really let myself get angry with God.

Not a good place to be with your Creator!

Because I found the most anti-God, albeit charmingly dark-humored sort I could and dared him to go out with the nicey-nice Christian girl.

He took me up on it, unfortunately.

And what followed was a horrifying few months, swinging between outright rebellion and missionary dating.

Either way, I plunged my heart in and felt pieces of soul begin to give way before he decided he was through with me.

And after he was done, I found what felt like the whole World Series of Mr. Wrongs.

To each I kept flinging out piece after piece of myself, hoping for some shred of love for my trouble.

Some were kinder than others, admittedly, but none possessed for me the love I craved.

I was too ashamed to introduce a single one to family.

To this day, I am grateful I never did.

I still carried the knowledge of God in those days, trying to straddle that proverbial fence but, of course, finding it painful.

And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I could feel the enormous weight of the grief He felt for the state of my life.

As time and the hole in my heart wore on, I stopped recognizing myself.

Though the specter of suicidal thoughts did seem dismayingly familiar.

It was about this time I decided I had had my last with this website.

The guy I was seeing at this time didn’t even make a pretense of being interested in anything more than convenience.

I tried to put on a jaded air in return, but it was like an ugly Halloween mask that didn’t quite fit.

Inside, I was crying out in my heart to God for an absolution to all this madness.

I didn’t want this anymore. Never really did.

So…quickly as I signed up, I made up my mind I was going to pull the plug on this demoralizing mess.

It was the only way.

Yet…an irresistable tug caused me to take one last scroll through these ill-fated, soul-crushing profiles.

And…all at once, there I saw him. My Joe. ❤ ( Told you he was coming! 😊) Never saw him on the site before, though he’d been listed a good two years.

He had a sweet, goofy smile and twinkly blue eyes. He looked approachable and unaffected by any attempt to be something he wasn’t.

His profile spoke a lot of the simple things in life, something my complicated world begged for.

So refreshing was his write-up, in fact, that I forgot about pulling the plug.

Instead, there I was writing to him. I told myself I just had to tell him I appreciated his words.

I really didn’t expect a reply, reminding myself how the nice ones never did that.

They were too busy with the girls nicer than me.

And, for days, I heard nothing.

I thought I was right. The disappointment stung despite the vindication.

I had had hopes in spite of myself. Sigh.

And then, one evening after I had shoved the whole idea from my head, there went the little “bing” on my phone!

I had mail, it read. From some guy named Joe. 😮😊

I had not been so eager to open and read something in a long while.

And what I read? Well, it truly floored me.

His two chief priorities in life: Christ and family. He hoped I felt the same.

He was a regional truck driver, hence he had not had opportunity to reply till now (Aha! Little Cynic, my brain chided). Feel free to write back, he added.

In fact, he hoped I would.

And, naturally, I did, with fingers flying. 😊

These exchanges kept up for quite a few weeks. Phone numbers were added to the mix.

We discovered we both had a thing for nostalgia and that we could neither one dance.

We shared the hurt of a failed marriage and frustration with the whole dating scene.

Most importantly, we shared Christ and the redemption to be found only in Him.

In fact, I attribute this momentous meeting to reawakening my heart to this truth.

But, still, in all the goodness was yet a rather pertinent question-

What about my kids? Hmmm…

And that, dear friends, shall be covered in part three…😉

Thanks for reading. Hope you are enjoying. Blessings and prayers!

When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part One

And now, for something totally different…

Inspired by my sweet blogging friend, Tina, over at Pippi’s Poetry and her recent wonderful posts on how she met her husband. Hello, friend! 😊

Also, honestly, further fueled by the struggles mentioned here.

I think it’s safe to say I could really do with some sharing of this piece of my story at this particular point in time.

To be reminded of His unparalleled goodness to us.

For those who have travelled with me one blog to another or read my book, this all might not be exactly different. My apologies.

Still, with each writing, there are fresh insights to be had. So…there’s that. 😏

Anyway…I have alluded in a lot of posts to having been married before.

It all figures into where I am now. Therefore, this portion impresses upon me to be told first, like it or not.

So…onto to laying the groundwork…

Husband #1 was my high school sweetheart.

The only guy I thought would ever stick around the likes of shy, dorky me.

The one I honestly assumed a lot of my identity through, as I had never felt much of my own.

I had grown up in the confusing atmosphere of a series of charismatic churches.

I had said a prayer to accept Jesus at age 5 that I didn’t really understand. No one truly helped fill in the gaps with anything more than to introduce the concept of being separately filled with the Spirit.

It was indicated such a “baptism” would bring me the “benefits” I witnessed weekly: supernatural healing, speaking a “heavenly language”, and the ability to worship in a “freer” (read: frenzied) fashion. Maybe even prophesy.

I could never figure out why none of that stuff came to me despite my sincere longing. I wilted in rejection.

At age 13, a lot of years of that later plus the abuse my mother administered at home, and I was back at the altar crying out to God to take my heart and change it.

To make me worthy. Because I sure didn’t feel much of that.

I did feel a change then, though again, there was a bundle of confusion handed to me with it when camp sponsors attempted to force me to speak in tongues.

However, older and a bit wiser, I tried to brush that aside this time and place my focus on that change I was feeling Him make within me.

I needed that change within me. I knew it was there.

Yet, I was still so unsure of His love in this process. Of any love, for that matter.

That was something, after all, so often given only to be snatched away when I proved less than pleasing, or so I thought.

I think that rampant insecurity as much as anything made it easy for me to latch onto this guy in my Drama 1 class.

He was funny. He was friendly. He said he believed in God, went to a church that was a lot simpler to understand.

And he seemed to like me.

But, it was never really what I could term as healthy. Lots of overattachment, plenty of push and pull.

Yet, I convinced myself we were destiny, as was the ministry we would unite in.

We married a year out of high school.

It proved a lot harder than anticipated. Neither of us was mature enough to sustain the necessaries of a God-centered relationship.

Children were born, responsibilities weighed, depression haunted.

And…we collapsed. Studies were abandoned and his dreams shifted another direction, with another person.

And the kids and I?

Well, we were left largely to fend for ourselves, beyond the very occasional visit, the very occasional financial contribution.

I was dangerously near suicide, saved by the love of my children and their need for me.

And…for a long while, the foolhardy hope he’d somehow come to his senses and come home, if only I behaved dutifully and prayed hard enough.

I really thought I was hearing from God on this, even.

In the meantime, I took up a new way of life:

Raising kids, discovering their autism and developmental delays, teaching a class of toddlers, learning to lean on God as my husband in that season, drawing my strength from Him.

It was brimming with opportunities for wisdom and fraught with fountains of tears.

New ways to find His joy were latched onto.

Yet, I also held onto my hope for a restored marriage-so tight the fabric of it grew frayed.

And on that fabric was written my mantra: Just waiting on a miracle here. I neither need nor want any other man.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the abandonment, I had found myself vulnerable to the teachings of my childhood and began to swallow the charismatic line whole.

However, as time and circumstance wore on without a glimmer, the words blurred to an unrecognizable blob in my hand, the fabric I carried like a security blanket long since past its use.

Until, finally, one day, I just decided.

I looked around and admitted it. I was lonely. Desperately lonely.

And quite fed up.

He wasn’t coming home because that wasn’t God’s answer to my many prayers.

The answer was I was a fool to believe God was speaking this false hope to me!

I had wasted six years of my life in unrequited longing.

I was done.

And, so, in this moment of revelation, where I wish I could say I had laid it all at His feet, I instead snatched a major chunk of it up for myself, pulled out my mobile phone, and signed myself up for something I never imagined I would do in a million years:

Online Dating. 😳😬

And….whew. That took a lot more words than I anticipated, though I should know my tendency towards windy phrasology by now.😊

That said, I think I shall have to stop there. Seems like a good spot, anyway.

All right. So, I know it is titled, at least partially: “The How Marisa Met Joe Story”. And…we aren’t even to anyone named Joe yet. For any dangling, I am sorry.

But, I promise, he is coming!😉

Stay tuned. I will likely have Part Two for you by Friday. 😊

Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers, friends! ❤

When Joy Gets Lost in the Gray

Hey, friends. I always try to come to you with raw honesty yet hope.

Not rah-rah-false-cheer, mind you.

That is just implausible.

Plus, it unhealthily glosses over troubles.

Of which, yes, I do admit to many.

But, I strive ever for that underlying joy of the Lord that rests in the heart despite hard times.

Yet…lately, I have to say I am having major struggles tapping into it.

Yes, between covid fears, grievious tension in our country, and grief striking agonizingly close to our church home, it’s not unfathomable to have reasons why.

Yet, all that I have been enduring and still finding reasons to praise.

No, the source of this growing grayness inside feels much more selfish.

However, I can no longer deny it’s there.

So, I will do what He has put inside me to do.

I will write about it and pray by the end the joy kicks in…

Eight years into my second marriage-that which I have counted despite every struggle a gift from a gracious God-I am lately feeling more and more broken.

Oh, I have had bouts of this before.

Coming together from our respective, extremely wounded pasts has not been the proverbial picnic.

Unless you count one with ants carrying your cake away. 😏

But, this. This feels deeper.

Differing ideas, differing parental tactics, differing opinions, differing desires…

Things I should be mature and wise enough to figure out how to dovetail by now!

Yet, I am finding myself at an impasse to be able to do so.

And, I can see on the other side, my husband does, too.

Perhaps, it is the sheer weariness of the deadlock.

The idea that this is indeed how it will always be.

But, really, I also think part of why this is so hard is I have been here before. The eight year mark was my last the first time.

The last and then, he was gone to another.

Eight years of hopes and dreams crumbled-though I know the crumbling began long before I could recognize it.

Long before I could acknowledge my place in it, though I no longer blame myself entirely.

At any rate, it is always such an incredibly painful place to be.

And to be abandoned in

Alone with two tiny boys and a daughter still on the way.

I admit, fifteen years down the road, there are days the scars still twinge mightily!

Oh, but, we are not looking at that exact situation this time, I must remind myself!

Infidelity, frankly, is sometimes feared by me in my tendency to apply ugly past to present circumstances. But, it has not manifested in reality.

Divorce has not really cropped up in our conversations, though I do have disconcerting thoughts of wanting to be the one to run this time.

Not to escape so much but to provide escape to him, he who I view, rightly or wrongly, as too honorable to do so.

You see, due to my limitations-some of which we really didn’t know he was signing up for at the time-I can feel like a millstone around his neck at times.

He will usually flatly deny this verbally, but actions sometimes-honestly, more and more-say otherwise.

And, in the heat of anger, his verbal will even sometimes slip and remind me of all I seem unable to fulfill.

I can feel like a shell of a partner in those times.

Even like he got a raw deal.

But that’s not a Godly way to think of oneself, Marisa!!

Yes, I know. I also am aware after counseling galore that my abusive past from childhood on points to deep-seated self-esteem quarrels.

It’s all in my book, even.

Meaning what, exactly?

That I should be better at all this?

Yeah, I think that sometimes.

Ok. Lots of times.

And, yet, I am reminded of my humanity.

Fragile. World-worn. Just not there in the well-muscled spirituality department, though I ever long to be.

And, maybe, just maybe, that is the place to begin in.

Admittance I am just not there.

That weakness needs a Savior.

That marriage needs more than two googly-eyed people who like all the same things and do things the same way.

That marriage is not doomed to impasses even when it involves two people marked up by hurtful, hair-raising pasts.

Not if we keep remembering this key thing:

1 Peter 5:7, NIV: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

It is not an automatic grayness-lifter, to be sure.

But, as I keep casting, He keeps listening.

And as He keeps listening, I do feel less alone in these gray times.

So…am I feeling that joy that abides just yet? Has it kicked in?

Perhaps a smidge more than when I began this ramble.

Rest assured, I will be all right in His hands.

Thanks for listening today, friends. Blessings and prayers to you!